Film Review: Silver Linings Playbook

“Dramatic Comedy” or “Dramedy” has been a rising genre for the past decade. It’s an unique combination considering in Shakespearian times the two genres were “tragedy” and “comedy.” David O. Russell has created his best film with Silver Linings Playbook. 

I declare dramadies a successful genre, but it is true that I have seen them fail or become misbalanced. The way a horror movie succeeds is by frightening its audience, a dramedy has to make the audience feel the character’s tragedy whilst making the audience laugh. In Silver Linings Playbook I laughed a lot and felt the tragedy.

I saw this film as an early screening with admittedly high expectations. I heard that its screening back in September deemed it an Oscar juggernaut. The extra boost from the Weinsteins producing will definitely help this film come award season (they produced last two winners The Artist and The King’s Speech.)

The movie starts with the main character Pat Solintano (Bradley Cooper) and his final days at a mental institution in Baltimore. His mother Doloroes (Jacki Weaver) comes to take him home despite the doctors suggestion and surprise her husband Pat Solintano Sr. (Robert De Niro.)

Amongst dining with old friends Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has problems of her own after the recent death of her husband. They develop a relationship and Tiffany eventually bribes him into being her partner in an upcoming dance competition.

So many things come together to make this film truly excellent. The trailers portray it as a predictable rom-com. The film’s characters are believable thanks to excellent performances especially from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Cooper has this role down to every last eye twitch and nervous habit and Lawrence has never been better, showing us she can go beyond her excellent performance in Winter’s Bone. 

Robert De Niro is another fine performance as a father obsessed with the Eagles and is strongly superstitious. You can easily believe he is the father of his bipolar son. Weaver plays the mother very well in her proud moments and her devastation. Tucker works well subdued as a comedic relief when things start getting too heavy.

The film is based off the critically acclaimed book of the same name, and the story is excellent, but sometimes I find it hard to believe that the film would’ve been as good if it wasn’t for the cast and the director. David O. Russell makes the film what it is, and most of the credit is owed to him for its excellence. He directs his ensemble into an alternate world where they are those characters.

There are some really fantastic movies out there, movies that change your ideals of the world and shape who you are as a person. This is the spectacular power of cinema and the medium. I can’t say Silver Linings Playbook is one of those films, but it’s still a damn good movie. With flawless execution and amazing performances; what the film does do is show us how a story that could’ve been turned into an above average rom-com was developed artistically well by the actors, directors, and the whole crew. The talent shows in the editing, cinematography and production design to.

I will clarify that I am not knocking the story. It is still a very charming story. Also, story and script are not the same thing. The script’s dialogue is witty and hilarious. When these characters get into a group they interact with exceptional comedy and engaging drama. Oscar nominations for Picture, Actress for Lawrence, Screenplay and Director are serious and very likely. An Actor nomination for Cooper and Supporting Actor for De Niro are a little less serious, but still very possible.

Go see this movie, it is funny, it is heartfelt and the execution on a whole is incredibly impressive. Hell, see it for the acting alone.

Silver Linings Playbook hits theaters November 21st, 2012.

Final Score: 4/5 (I seriously thought about 4.5 though)