David O Russell’s superb film Silver Linings Playbook graced our screens and enchanted our hearts back in 2012 and through generous backing from producer Harvey Weinstein earned itself a great reputation and a bundle of awards to boot, including an Academy Award for Jennifer Lawrence as Best Actress.
The story is about Pat (Bradley Cooper) who has just been released from a psychiatric hospital for attacking his wife’s lover after he found them romantically entwined in his bathroom, Pat has bipolar disorder and he has to see a therapist every week as part of the terms of his release. He returns home and is greeted by his father (Robert De Niro) who also shows signs of having a mental disorder, although this is never actually pinned down to specifics. Pat learns that his wife, Nikki, has moved away yet is still desperate to pick their marriage back up again, delusional to the fact his relationship is completely over. Along the way he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a sufferer of depression who was diagnosed when her husband, Tommy, died.
She makes a deal with Pat that she will deliver letters to Nikki for him if he agrees to be her dance partner for an upcoming dance competition. A couple of letters pass hands and Pat thinks that a reconciliation with Nikki is on the cards. A racially fuelled brawl at football match lands Pat in trouble and his Father in a pile of debt, hope for his family lies entirely on the dance competition with Tiffany, with Nikki in attendance things start to heat up as they both take to the dance floor. With the sounds of The White Stripes ringing out and enough gyration to make Elvis’ head spin, will they reign victorious?
As serious as the subject matter of bipolar disorder may be, Silver Linings Playbook manages to keeps its head above the water without plunging into a swell of depression. The friendship of Pat and Tiffany is at times hilarious, while at others heart wrenching and their story is encapsulating from start to finish. Pat has some painfully honest personal moments which are short, sharp stabs of realism that bipolar disorder is a serious and unrelenting problem suffered by millions.
Beautifully acted and wonderfully directed, Silver Linings Playbook is a real treat from start to finish and every award and nomination well deserving. It manages to dip into the subject of mental health while simultaneously sculpting an unconventional love story, throw in a bit of wacky dancing and illegal gambling and you’ve got yourself some pretty excellent entertainment.
Further Reading in the Information Store:
Silver Linings Playbook by David O’ Russell – DVD ZONE – 791.43 S
Bipolar Disorder: Your Questions Answered by Neil Hunt – BOOK ZONE – 616.895 HUN
The Pits and the Pendulum: A Life with Bipolar Disorder by Brian Adams – BOOK ZONE – 616.895 ADA