Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook has won over the critcs with its 'bipolar swings between passionate highs and intentionally painful lows'. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and even Anupam Kher live up to the roles.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
While David O. Russell’s foray into conventional drama with The Fighter was a richly satisfying knockout, it’s a joy to see him back in the off-kilter comedy realm with the wonderful Silver Linings Playbook. Cheerfully yet poignantly exposing the struggles, anxieties, disorders and obsessions of ordinary people, this is a film as odd as it is charming. It brings out the best in a superlative cast led by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, both showing unexpected colors.
Cooper gives filter-free Pat a desperation that’s both painful and funny, asserting his positivity and growth while at the same time emitting alarm signals. The actor’s work becomes even more appealing once Lawrence enters the picture as Tiffany. A young widow depressed since the death of her cop husband -- and possibly before -- she’s every bit as volatile and blunt as Pat and also tainted by her own dark meltdown.
Given the quirkiness of the humor, the pathos slowly generated by these characters is unexpected. The chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence makes them a delight to watch, their spiky rapport failing to conceal a mutual attraction.
One of the chief pleasures here is the incisive work of actors in even the smallest roles. As Pat’s best friend Ronnie, John Ortiz bristles with the stress of home, job, baby and controlling wife in Tiffany’s sister, played with cool command by Julia Stiles. Indian veteran Anupam Kher brings a nice needling manner to Pat’s therapist, who’s also a mad Eagles fan. And Chris Tucker drops in now and then as a nutty pal from the clinic, who seems quite comfortable with his tics.
Verdict: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence expand their range in David O. Russell's winning comedy romance about two people struggling to rebuild their lives.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Silver Linings Playbook,” the exuberant new movie from David O. Russell, does almost everything right. The story tracks the feverish, happy, sad, absurdly funny ups and downs of a head case named Pat Solatano, played by a surprisingly effective, intensely focused Bradley Cooper, just as he returns to his parents’ home after eight months in a mental institution. Pat had been put away for a scarily violent crime, but now, having shed fat and the defense it offered him, and feeding on the shiny philosophy of the title instead, he feels ready to tackle the world. The world may not be ready.
“Silver Linings Playbook” is an outright comedy, but like Pat, it’s a bipolar one that swings between passionate highs and intentionally painful lows. When Pat’s mother, Dolores (a sensational Jacki Weaver), brings him home from the asylum— briefly accompanied by his pal in kookiness, Danny (Chris Tucker) — her husband, Pat Sr. (a moving Robert De Niro), complains that she didn’t tell him about springing their son. Dolores, her Kewpie Doll eyes darting with animal panic, responds the only way any loving mother and wife could: “It’s all under control.”
It isn’t, and not by a long shot, at least as far as these characters are concerned. Mr. Russell, on the other hand, a virtuoso of chaos, has supreme command over a movie that regularly feels as if it’s teetering on the edge of hysteria, in respect to the characters and director both. But Mr. Russell doesn’t just choreograph bedlam, he also tames it, and worrying that it might all go kablooey with one shout too many is one of the pleasures of his work, which includes films like the aptly titled “Flirting With Disaster.” Like a singer who quavers tauntingly, thrillingly close to going off-key, Mr. Russell never loses control. Watching him pull back from the brink can be a delight.
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Silver Linings Playbook is rich in life's complications. It will make you laugh, but don't expect it to fit in any snug genre pigeonhole. Dramatic, emotional, even heartbreaking, as well as wickedly funny, it has the gift of going its own way, a complete success from a singular talent.
That would be the gifted writer-director David O. Russell, whose triumph with "The Fighter" two years ago marked a return to form after a spate of lean years. Russell, whose early successes include "Three Kings" and "Flirting With Disaster," always brings intensity and passion to the proceedings: We aren't coolly observing life in his films, we are compelled to live it full-bore along with his characters.
Upping the ante this time around are a pair of obsessive, unbalanced protagonists, splendidly played in different than usual roles by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, whose lives, not to put too fine a point on it, threaten to spiral out of control on a daily basis.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
“Silver Linings Playbook” serves as a textbook example of why directors matter. In any other hands, the adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel would be the stuff of banal rom-com fluff or, perhaps worse, self-consciously quirky indie cliches.
Thankfully, this fractured fairy tale of mental illness, family drama, ragged romance and die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fandom has landed in the superbly capable hands of David O. Russell.
Perhaps most important, Russell doesn’t shy from the absurd humor mental illness can sometimes entail; nor does he make it look cute.
Verdict: Rather, Silver Linings Playbook invites viewers to consider whether we all don’t exist on some kind of spectrum, where the difference between a quirk and a symptom can be notional at best.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Damaged goods, that's Tiffany and Pat. He's a bipolar teacher just out of eight months in a state loony bin. She's a young widow, overcompensating for the death of her cop husband by fucking, well, anyone. They're manic energy unleashed. But as played with go-for-broke intensity, humor and raw feeling by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, they're deranged romantics you can't help rooting for.
Silver Linings Playbook is eager to sting instead of soothe. It's one of the year's best movies because Russell makes you laugh till it hurts. Trouble starts when Pat's peacemaker mom, Dolores (Jacki Weaver, wonderful as the film's sole contact with sanity), picks him up at the clinic. Then Pat is imprisoned back in his family home, ruled by Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), a sports bookie so obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles that it's his only means of communication. De Niro, getting a rare chance to grapple with a role worthy of his talents, is sensational. Dad's been barred from Eagles games because of violent outbursts. And his son has been jailed for going postal on the guy he caught with his wife in the shower.
Russell gives Silver Linings Playbook a jagged, jolting spark that throws you off balance. Tiffany jogs up behind Pat, prodding and poking until she wins him over. The movie works the same way. It doesn't cheat, until a "happy" ending that panders when it should feel provisional. Only in Hollywood can mental illness be cured by moonstruck fantasy. Pat and Tiffany walk and often wobble among the emotionally wounded. That's when these two losers in love cut deepest.
Verdict: Tinged with shadows and ignited by Lawrence and Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook raises the bar on romantic comedy. It's crazy good.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
Family nuttiness, football madness, romantic obsession, and certifiable mental illness coexist happily in Silver Linings Playbook — a crazy beaut of a comedy that brims with generosity and manages to circumvent predictability at every turn.
Silver Linings scoops up a whole lot of ancillary nutjobs in the course of the mayhem, among them Rush Hour's Chris Tucker as Pat's buddy from the psych ward, Anupam Kher as Pat's shrink, and John Ortiz as a stressed-out neighborhood pal married to Tiffany's controlling sister (Julia Stiles). Russell welcomes them all into the rumble with open arms. The movie is lit with a love that catches the viewer by surprise. We're ready for the comedy of craziness, but the depth of compassion is the movie's silver lining.