Like 2006's Little Miss Sunshine
, The Silver Linings Playbook
is an offbeat comedy-drama that has swooped past bigger films to become an awards season darling. It's dark, it's funny, and above all, it's very human.
Former teacher Pat Solatono (Bradley Cooper
) has lost his job, marriage, and is struggling with bipolar disorder. After an eight-month stint in a psychiatric facility, Pat returns to his parents' home in Philadelphia, living with dad Patrizio (Robert De Niro
), and mum Dolores (Jacki Weaver
With his life at a crossroads, Pat believes the answer lies in reuniting with his wife Nikki (Brea Bee
) — and then he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence
). A young widow, Tiffany has just as many issues as Pat, and she may hold the key to a real silver lining.
For marketing purposes, Silver Linings Playbook
has been pitched as a "quirky romantic comedy", which it is at times, but it's also a realistic, moving portrayal of mental illness and dysfunctional families.
Directed by The Fighter
's David O Russell
and adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick
, this film deftly balances the laugh-out-loud with the try-not-to-cry, largely thanks to a flawless cast.
Bradley Cooper suddenly has depth beyond the "Sexiest Man Alive" tag; Aussie Jacki Weaver is radiant as his ever-patient mother; and Jennifer Lawrence is pretty much the most talented actress in cinema at the moment.
But Robert De Niro's turn as an obsessive-compulsive father is the biggest surprise, and easily his best, most sensitive role in years.
It is no wonder that Silver Linings
has earned the rare honour of scoring nominations in all four acting categories at the Academy Awards (along with four other noms including best picture).
At least one of them deserves a gold statuette – now that would be a silver lining.
Watch the trailer here
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