Review: David O. Russell (previously directed the boxing drama The Fighter) attempts a funny dysfunctional rom-com that’s attracted 8 Oscars, and in the process, has become the first film in 31 years to be nominated in all four acting categories. The problem is Silver Linings Playbook is not as unconventional as it wants to be. Nor is it best picture worthy.
It’s not as adventurous or enjoyable or thrilling as Argo, The Life Of Pi or Django Unchained (yet to release in India).

Having said that, Silver Linings Playbook is still a pleasant film with a fine balance of romance and realism. It’s all about being in love which is a kind of insanity and is just as intriguing. And while it may not be best film material, it’s still got some stellar performances.

Bradley Cooper plays Patrick Solitano, a bi-polar former teacher in pursuit of his new lease on life. After doing his time in a mental institution, Pat is getting ready to get back out into the world and win back his wife and achieve ‘Excelsior’. Of course there is a restraining order… but let’s not spoil why.

Pat’s moved into the family home with parents Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) giving him courage. They put up with his garbage bag wearing jogs all around the neighborhood and his nightly yelling. So long as he keeps visiting Dr. Cliff (Anupam Kher). Though it’s soon apparent that Pat isn’t the only crazy person, ageing De Niro delivers a splendid performance as a painfully superstitious and OCD sports fan.

Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a troubled young widow searching for her own silver lining through a dance competition, runs into Pat’s life. She’s Pat’s only hope to reconnect with his estranged wife. A bargain is struck and a plucky romance begins.

Cooper, Lawrence, De Niro and Weaver – all excellent. Lawrence and Bradley are the best pick of the bunch with their immensely likeable and utterly believable characters. You relate to their flaws and understand why they can be irritable and empathize with their problems. Anupam Kher plays a calm Dr. Cliff Patel and delivers a smooth performance in an easy laid back role that didn’t require his talents as therapist to an unhinged Pat. It’s a small role but he makes his mark in Hollywood. Thankfully, he doesn’t sport a quirky put-on foreign accent and is natural.

The first two-thirds of the film, the “getting to know each other” scenes of Cooper and Lawrence with the funny take on their mental conditions – just love it! But then the film turns into a drab predictable mushy rom-com. All of a sudden you feel you’re watching a different film with different characters even though it’s the same set of actors. A clichéd ending, yes seems like all mental illnesses can be cured by a big dance number. Quite trite, Russel takes the easy way out.     
It’s been showered with honours but I’m happy to sit outside the main group. Most say it’s “great”. I’m going with “good”.

Avneet Ghai

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