What's the Strategy
Following a minimum 8 month stay in a mental hospital where he is diagnosed as being bipolar, Dolores Solatano (Jackie Weaver) has her son, Pat Jr. (Bradley Cooper), discharged despite the doctors saying he isn't ready. Part of the deal is that not only does Pat return home to his parents where his unemployed OCD father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) has set himself up as a bookie but that he also has regular appointments with his doctor whilst taking his medication and keeping away from his ex-wife who he walked in on when she was with her lover and proceeded to almost beat him to death. But things are not easy on the outside despite trying to channel all his issues into more positive actions especially as he can't get his ex out of his head. But then he is introduced to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the widowed sister of a friend's wife and who is as crazy as he is leading to them spending some time together.
Genre terms are a nightmare as whilst "Silver Linings Playbook" definitely fits in to the drama category it is also technically a romantic comedy. Yet the combination of those two words conjure up certain expectations and "Silver Linings Playbook" does not fit comfortably into what I would imagine is many people's definition of a romantic comedy with its darkness, slow pacing, noisy extremes and quirkiness. Add on the fact we have a character who is bipolar and several others with their own sets of issues and here is a movie which doesn't quite gel and can at times border on the offensive considering the subject matter.
You may be able to guess that I didn't love "Silver Linings Playbook" as much as others and to be honest I found it incredibly uneven going slow then fast, focusing in on one thing and then spinning off on a tangent and then becoming side tracked by something else. It means at times it works, the relationship which forms between the damaged Pat and the equally damaged Tiffany is at times touching, the highlighting of how easy for Pat to be triggered in to losing it is also powerful. But then it throws something in which to me throws the emotional heart of the movie off kilter especially when it comes to Tiffany's notoriety of being a whore widow or Pat's father's OCD.
This uneven-ness also extends to the acting with Jennifer Lawrence impressing with this concoction of a character who is fragile, volatile and a whole bag of sexy. But then there is Bradley Cooper who frequently seems to be forcing it, struggling to make the dialogue seem natural to his character. It is the same with Robert De Niro who seems to think being loud works when more light and shade would have made the character more realistic. Realistic is what you get from Jackie Weaver who just through the way she responds gets across that Dolores has spent her life living with a crazy husband and a crazy son who both have their habits and are prone to exploding, you could almost say she appears on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
What this all boils down to is that "Silver Linings Playbook" ends up hit and miss with some good things and some bad things and that extends to the acting. I honestly don't know how I feel about the movie and part of me wonders whether this is one of those movies which play better in America for American audiences rather than UK audiences.