Samuel James has provided a review for each one of the nominees.
Before seeing it, Silver Linings Playbook has the approach, like your traditional romantic comedy, where it is colourfully filmed and looks to contain a high level of predictability within the plot, mediocre performances from the actors and has nothing to show for it. However, it does not contain elements that forcefully add gross-out gags and sexual references. Based on the debut novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic-drama that does have its elements of dark humour but more importantly, it demonstrates psychological issues within human beings in general. Supported by the sublime direction and script from David O. Russell as well as breath-taking performances from its ensemble cast, Silver Linings Playbook is a dark but at the same time, light-hearted and hilarious film.
After providing us with The Fighter in 2010, David O. Russell displays human drama, particularly the psychological bi-polar disorder, in another form of genre and expresses it through the emotional and most tender themes – love and friendship. In addition, Silver Linings Playbook determines a lot about fate, particularly through the relationship between Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and their emotional connection. In that sense, we get thought-provoking messages about the human mind. It has so much depth, mentally, but the added humour within the film really comes into play. As opposed to intentionally making us laugh out loud like in most comedies, Russell adds the laughter in certain situations (mostly in ones that spark awareness of bi-polar) where the audience occasionally feel bad for laughing. Nevertheless, in almost every aspect, Silver Linings Playbook becomes another fine achievement from David O. Russell.
Despite Russell’s direction and screenwriting skills are sublime in Silver Linings Playbook, the film’s strongest field is undoubtedly the acting from its ensemble cast. Each of the characters, particularly the four central ones, illustrates some kind of mental conditions. First, there is Bradley Cooper who literally gives us his breakthrough performance as Pat and becomes an entirely different actor compared to his past roles in comedies. His role in Silver Linings Playbook does contain the odd moments of humour that he is known for but more importantly, he fills the mental instability of a troubled man looking to change, become a stronger person and try to get his wife back. Similar to fellow Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper cracks out of his shell and goes to new depths as an actor following his performance.
Alongside Bradley Cooper leading the film is Jennifer Lawrence, a young actress at the prime of her career. Most recently recognising her as the innocent girl turned hero from The Hunger Games, Lawrence becomes a woman in her role as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. Tiffany is also troubled who is a widow and has a sexual reputation. Lawrence goes into this character with such strong force where she fits in every physical and emotional feature. She’s incredibly attractive, she’s a rebellious youngster and she has a strong heart. Meanwhile Robert De Niro, without a doubt the most sophisticated actor in the film, delivers without a doubt one of his strongest performances in a long time as Pat Sr. We see signs of psychological disorder in Pat Sr. too and knowing that De Niro has portrayed similar characters throughout his career, nobody could have pulled it off better. Finally, Jacki Weaver is the innocent one in the centre of it all as Pat Sr’s wife and Pat Jr’s mother Dolores who also delivers a superb performance.
In many ways, Silver Linings Playbook has many concepts of human drama and comedy that we saw in Little Miss Sunshine in 2006 where it goes into the mindset of each character and gives the audience an outcome full of emotions. It is not a psychological drama. It is simply a drama that deals with psychology in other forms of romance and comedy. Silver Linings Playbook amazingly crafts the romantic sequences at a dramatic and humorous level without it being corny or clichéd. It’s emotionally engaging and progressively leads to teach the audience a few lessons about human psychology. Thus, Silver Linings Playbook is another incredible film from David O. Russell and is undoubtedly the best film of 2012 in terms of ensemble cast performances.