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SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (director/writer: David O. Russell; screenwriter: based on the novel by Matthew Quick; cinematographer: Masanobu Takayanagi; editors: Jay Cassidy/Crispin Struthers; music: Danny Elfman; cast: Bradley Cooper (Pat Solatano), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany), Robert De Niro (Pat Solatano Sr.), Jacki Weaver (Dolores Solatano), Chris Tucker (Danny), Brea Bee (Nikki), Anupam Kher (Dr. Cliff Patel), John Ortiz (Ronnie), Shea Whigham (Jake Solatano, brother), Julia Stiles (Veronica), Paul Herman (Randy), Dash Mihok (Officer Keogh); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Donna Gigliotti/Bruce Cohen/ Jonathan Gordon; Weinstein Company; 2012)
“Fine mainstream sitcom material.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s at times a very amusing comedy misfit love story about a lovable bipolar Philadelphia former substitute history teacher, who was just released from an 8-month court ordered stay at a mental hospital and begins a new romance with someone as screwy as him. It’s written and directed as fine mainstream sitcom material by David O. Russell (“Spanking The Monkey”/”Three Kings”/”The Fighter”). The film is based on the novel by Matthew Quick. Though burdened with a heavy-handed story that by the third act grows wearisome and too predictable, the appealing performances by Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro trump that.

After Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) went berserk on his wife Nikki (Brea Bee) and the history teacher he caught her with in the shower of their house, while a CD plays their wedding song, the broken-hearted cuckolded lad is sent to a mental hospital in Baltimore to be treated for his newly discovered bipolar disorder. Pat’s wife has left him and sold their house, and also has a restraining order out on him to keep him away from her upon his release. The delusional Pat still loves her and thinks he can win her back by proving he’s cured of his mental illness, and professes he will do anything to get her back if he can only get to woo her. When the moody Pat gets his paroled release and moves into the suburban Philly home of his supportive parents, his Eagle fan gambler father (Robert De Niro) and his caring homebody mom Dolores (Jacki Weaver), he gets edgy as he realizes he can’t see Nikki and must still get treatment from Dr. Cliff Patel (Anupam Kher).

Nikki’s married friend Veronica (Julia Stiles) introduces Pat to her widowed sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), also on meds, who is an angry and despondent wacko loser like him and proudly calls herself a “crazy slut with a dead cop husband.” Tiffany compensates for her loss by having sex with everyone at her former office workplace. After a poor start, their relationship shows promise when she agrees to deliver to Nikki a love letter from him and he in turn agrees to be her dance partner so she can enter a Philly dance contest. Their love is signaled when they dance together in the fixed-up garage residence of her family home, where she now resides, and the soundtrack plays “The Girl from the North Country”– a Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash duet.

The quirky relationship between the unstable damaged goods duo is the heart of the film and gives the film its energy and brilliance. It’s just too bad that a filler story about Pat’s dad gambling on football games to buy a restaurant and how he loves his son in his own peculiar way, doesn’t enhance the film enough to lift it into the superior comedy film category. But the background story offers many colorful interludes, good eccentric character studies and safely lands it as a gentle pic about discovering one’s true self and learning to love one’s parents and your soul mate. In the end, everyone ends up a winner and that only seems right since this is a soft-spoken film with no ax to grind–everything is good if you can maintain your mental health and learn how to chill out–there’s no Hemingway downbeat ending like in A Farewell to Arms.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”