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Silver Linings Playbook Review

slp_1sht_dom_wip8Silver Linings Playbook poses a difficult question, for which there is likely no satisfying answer: how comfortable are we as an audience to let someone else balance realism and drama in film? Or do we demand both?

The film begins as Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) is leaving a mental health facility. Initially Pat’s struggle with his health feels overly dramatic, but while trying to find ways to reconcile with his ex-wife Nikki, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Despite their problems, the two eventually begin to anchor one another, and it’s at this point that the film draws you in. While Pat’s early behaviour feels stumbling, cheap, and overdone, the addition of

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Tiffany sees it tone down, and provides it with a purpose.

The pair’s rapport often leads to this incredibly dry, almost guilt-inducing humour – where you feel bad not for the joke itself, but the situation in which it takes form. But the way Cooper and Lawrence play off each other is mesmerising, and it induces some intense and hugely rewarding moments.

Director David O. Russell has produced a fine film. Certain scenes are hard-hitting, such as the explanation of the wedding song, during which there’s a palpable and vicarious sense of terror. The soundtrack is well arranged, and Robert De Niro in particular is on point with his supporting role as Pat’s father.

Despite its debatable shortcomings, Silver Linings Playbook has promoted the much-needed discussion of mental illness through an engaging story. It has brought forward a sense of hope. Although less realistic than many would desire, Russell’s film brings suitable drama without falling into cliche, and provided that we as an audience understand the portrayal may not be representative of the larger whole, it’s worth every minute of your time – even if it’s just to see the conversation start.

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