I've been waiting for both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence to take on roles that would really allow them to show off their acting abilities since, up until now, we've mainly seen them in big time blockbuster movies playing the type of characters that don't really allow actors to go all in with their performances. While they have both done solid work to this point, I could always tell there was something more they both could give if they had the right characters to play. Silver Linings Playbook just happens to throw them both together into a story that is as oddly original as it is charmingly entertaining.
Cooper plays Pat Solitano who is trying to put his life back together after being in a mental institution for the last several years as part of a plea bargain sentence which kept him out of prison. With the help of his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) and his therapist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher), he is also learning to deal with the bipolar disorder that contributed to the incident that led to his troubles with the law.
Wanting nothing more than to prove to his estranged wife that he has put himself back together and become a better man, Pat has adopted a positive outlook on life and come up with a plan to win her back...even with a restraining order in place. Of course, this is where he meets Tiffany (Lawrence) who has some serious issues of her own going on and a reputation for crazy antics that is only rivaled by Pat himself. Although they don't see eye to eye, the unlikely duo decides to team up for what they hope will be a mutually beneficial endeavor although neither of them could have ever been prepared for the end result.
If you have ever had any serious exposure to people that have a bipolar disorder (I have), you will immediately appreciate how realistically it is portrayed in this movie. Even while being played for laughs, it always rings true and there is a level of respect given to the condition and even Cooper himself does a fantastic job balancing the humor with the seriousness of each moment. I was very impressed with how well he tackled this role as you can see so much going on in Pat's brain just by watching his eyes and facial expressions.
I have been a fan of Jennifer Lawrence for a while now and this truly is that moment I have been waiting for as she dives so far in to this character that I couldn't help but get lost in the constant swirl of emotions she had going on at any given moment. You could really see the torment and struggle deep inside her portrayal of Tiffany in the same way Cooper was able to draw out the constant inner conflict going on inside his character. Each of them has moments that just blow you away with how raw and real they feel while at the same time making you laugh at how brilliantly goofy they can be on screen together.
Writer/director David O. Russell has taken a popular novel and created a movie that has some very strong messages about mental health, family, and general well being wrapped around two outstanding performances. While I wouldn't say that this was one of my absolute favorite movies from this year, I would still recommend Silver Linings Playbook as a movie you should definitely make an effort to see.