|year: 2012 cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence rating: ***1/2|
Which is where our story begins… right as he’s checking out…
And it’s any wonder they let him go free at all – a particular song makes him bonkers while a classic novel's unhappy ending sends him on a frantic tizzy. But his parents have taken him back into their home, and not without hesitation.
Yet Pat’s father, played by veteran icon Robert De Niro, isn’t exactly normal. With a hardwired penchant for Eagles football, a manner of keeping everything in place around him, and a bias for his "normal" oldest son he’s anything but a cure for Pat, whose only solace is his mundane best buddy, married to an uptight yuppie with a cute little sister...
And that’s where the real story begins…
Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany might be crazier… or rather… more blunt than anyone else on board. With a sordid past – having slept with a laundry list of people – there’s no subject she won’t shed light on. And her pet project becomes Pat, who still thinks he has a chance reconciling with his wife despite a pretty serious restraining order.
The best scenes have Pat and Tiffany hanging out, jogging or wandering the suburbs, outdoing each other with combative honesty and getting closer and closer despite their neurosis, providing Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence worthy performances: each seeming too real for the world and each other. While the sporadic handheld camera provides an edgy documentary vibe, and more stagnant scenes remind us of the romantic comedy baseline.
But the real catch, and what drives the character-driven story, is Veronica’s promise to bring Pat and his wife (friends with her sister) back together – the stakes are raised as that silver lining now has a price. He has to learn to dance for a big competition that, occurring on the same night of an important football game, gives this unique tale a worthy climax for conventional audiences.
Sure it can be cliché at times. The two leads find solutions much too easily; especially since Pat has a beautiful young dream-girl/life coach that any guy would die for, making him difficult to relate with. While some of the characters, like Pat’s brother and his outpatient friend, aren’t entirely fleshed out.
But with an ultimately heartfelt performance by De Niro, and a platform for Cooper and Lawrence to shine without limits, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a dose of effective medicine.