Movies about mental health are few and far between with movies that cover mental health well even rarer. Ham-fisted attempts to produce something warm, heartfelt and genuine from the studios usually fail in all respects but writer and director David O. Russell has managed to create something that’s all three.
In a nutshell Silver Linings Playbook is the story of Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, who is checked out of a mental institute by his mother Dolores, played by Jackie Weaver, against the advice of the doctors. Pat has a father with OCD (played brilliantly by Robert De Niro) and is convinced he’s going to get back with his ex-wife after eight months of ‘being inside’. Pat then meets Tiffany, an outstanding Jennifer Lawrence, who has issues of her own and the two resolve to help each other.
Chris Tucker (looking like he’s been enjoying the finer things in life recently) pops up throughout the story in fairly random places as Pat’s friend but you never really get to know his character and sometimes your left questioning what the point of him being in certain scenes was.
The story has a little more meat on the bones then that but what you really get are some fantastic performances, particularly from De Niro and Lawrence who shine whenever they’re on screen. Cooper does very well in a role I wouldn’t expect him necessarily to although he does turn into the Cooper we’ve come to expect (confident, suave etc) very quickly at the end.
The story is emotional yet funny but you never feel you’re laughing at an illness or at someone with an illness which is a great triumph from Russell. The movie has an indie feel to it which works well, it reminds me very much of Little Miss Sunshine in its style which is absolutely no bad thing.
The movie isn’t perfect, as I mentioned Cooper quickly turns back to confident, suave man at the end which almost suggests he’s been cured somehow, miraculously. It’s also a tad predictable from the get-go and Chris Tucker’s character seems almost tacked on. But they’re small things that go relatively unnoticed and don’t take away from what is a great movie with fantastic performances which will do Lawrence’s and Russell’s credentials no-harm whatsoever.