Silver Linings Playbook

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by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Each day, we pass by hundreds of people as we go about, whether grocery shopping or at work, at the gym or just out for a leisurely stroll. Little would you know that around sixty million people in the United States are inflicted with some sort of mental health disorder. The reason: they look just like you and I. David O. Russell (The Fighter, I Heart Huckabees) tackles the issue of mental health with his newest film, Silver Linings Playbook, a brilliant and emotional look into bipolar disorder and depression.

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is going home to live with his parents, his Philadelphia Eagle fanatic father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and his loving mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver), post-eight month stay in a mental health facility to help control his bipolar disorder after an incident with his wife had him locked away. Pat refuses to take his medications, as they make him feel sluggish and bloated, but wants to prove to his wife that he’s better and resume his marriage. The problem: there’s a restraining order against him.

Now Pat is working to lose weight (his wife wanted him to) and feeling better, but without his medication, his bipolar disorder is affecting his life and those around him. He desperately wants to get into contact with his wife, and in trying to find a way, meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of his friend’s wife, who is able to relate to Pat as she has battled major depression since the death of her husband. Sometimes what it takes to make a breakthrough is finding someone who is able to understand you when the rest of the world cannot.

It would have been easy for David O. Russell to focus primarily on Bradley Cooper and bipolar disorder, but he chose to go a different way. He takes a deeper approach with looking at those people around our lives and how they often enable us when it comes to self-improvement. Maybe it’s a father that wants you around for personal gain or a mother who feels she is being helpful, but in reality, isn’t allowing her child to deal with a problem they have directly. Russell looks at all these factors and how they further affect someone with a mental health disorder, providing an in-depth look at family structure, social support and how people cope when this is their daily life.

Bradley Cooper delivers an amazing performance in the role of Pat. Those that suffer from bipolar disorder experience periods of mania followed by periods of depression and he delivers these wonderfully. Jennifer Lawrence, most recently The Hunger Games and House at the End of the Street, delivers a fine performance in her own right. For a woman who lost her husband, has to deal with a sister who feels she’s better than everyone else, parents who don’t necessarily look highly on her, and no real friends, Lawrence delivers an inner pain with her character that is really seen through the eyes and body language. Lawrence has fragility to her character that induces empathy and sympathy from the audience as she tries to be strong while dealing with the effects of depression and feeling alone.

Silver Linings Playbook deals with conditions but still finds way to add humor to such a topic. The performances by Cooper and Lawrence are spot on and the rest of the cast is admirable in their supporting roles… nice to see Chris Tucker again, also in a normal role. David O. Russell paints a vivid picture for us and brings us into a world that is probably foreign for most and makes us realize that medical conditions aren’t the only thing people may need help with. Silver Linings Playbook is deep, rich and emotional and one of those films you don’t necessarily want to end. It will suck you in and put you front and center with the family and you’ll walk out of the theater knowing this was one of the finest films of the year.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



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