Surrounding the Oscar buzz that has seen a strong lead up in the past two weeks with hefty candidates like Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty releasing in succession, expectations were high for David O Russell's Silver Linings Playbook. The film is surprising to say the least. Nominated for best picture alongside some of the grandest and brilliant cinema, the film astonishes you by being a simple and fine slice-of-life drama that charms everybody who enters the cinema hall expecting life-altering cinema.
Adapted from the namesake novel by Matthew Quick, the film is based on a simple premise: Life doesn't always go according to the plan. Pat Solatano, returns home from a rehab facility having lost everything -- his house, his job and his wife. Determined to rebuild his life, Pat, who suffers from bipolar disorder, finds himself at his parents' home. Pat's father is a heavy book-keeper and gambles on every football game, and all he wants from Pat is to get back on his feet. Then comes a turning point when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious widow with problems of her own. Things get complicated as the two perceptibly complex and crazy characters try to help each other set their respective lives straight.
Between The Fighter and this film, the only link Russell has maintained is the honest realist treatment. Taking complex life situations, like restraining orders, creating drama around it in such a carefree manner makes this story, about the struggle of two outcasts, a treat to watch. The portrayal of these characters too, is highly important and extremely fragile; and Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are flawless. On one level, the film is a regular Hollywood romantic comedy, but Cooper and Lawrence give it that extra dimension that is missing from all those sickeningly sweet stories which show the characters in soft focus and always have a predictable happy ending.
Of course, Silver Linings Playbook has an happy ending too. But it dodges the bullet of predictability every time you feel that it's approaching. The film proves that the genre of romance can still conjure good cinema and it doesn't necessarily need a satire or a high-budget biopic or a complex philosophy to make excellent cinema. A seemingly real love story with a happy ending that also has a little moral attached to it, the film tells us that our happiness doesn't really depend on finding the people who correct our shortcomings, but instead on finding people who are unconditionally willing to co-exist with our unique brand of madness.
The film is a lesson in simplicity and you leave the theatre with a smile knowing you have the power to make positive changes to your imperfect and bleak life; and in more than one way, it teaches you to see the silver lining on every dark cloud that comes your way. A nervy dramatic rom-com, Silver Linings Playbook is a film that fits the insecurities and anxieties of the times we live in.
Rating - 4 out of 5
Published in DNA After Hrs (Pune) on February 24, 2013