Parlay of Silver Linings

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

A parlay is money won on a bet to increase the stakes. David O. Russell’s brilliant and feisty family drama Silver Linings Playbook won People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and teams up Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence with Bradley Cooper as Patrick (The Hangover, Limitless) along with Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) and Oscar winner Robert de Niro (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) as Patrick’s doting parents. Russell directed the Oscar winning 2010 film The Fighter and delivers another quirky brilliant scripted and at times frenetic portrait of a dysfunctional American family set in suburban Philadelphia.

fighter

Cooper plays Patrick who is released by his determined mother Dolores from a court-ordered stay in a Baltimore Psychiatric Institution after serving eight months for a violent episode where he beat up his wife’s lover after walking in on them in the shower. Patrick at 37 has to go back and live with his parents which in these economic times are far from unusual. Patrick has a severe bi-polar disorder and needs to be on chronic medication to prevent any further violent outbursts. His estranged wife has a restraining order against him.

de Niro is superb as Patrick, senior the OCD father who besides dealing with his bi-polar son has problems of his own as a bookie, with no pension and is desperately trying regain the dwindled family fortune through betting on the local football matches, but is banned from the stadium. Weaver is Dolores, the doting mother who tries to maintain stability in a disorderly household coping simultaneously with a son with mental health problems and a husband with obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Patrick first plan besides getting fit is to read his estranged wife who is an English teacher’s high school syllabus starting with Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, but unlike Hemingway, Patrick is always searching for the silver lining something enforced while he was in rehabilitation and is determined to reunite with his wife.

Into this dysfunctional family enters Tiffany, beautifully portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, a promiscuous young woman who is traumatized by the sudden death of her husband.  Tiffany persuades Patrick to enter a Dancing with the Stars type competition in exchange for assisting him in delivering letters in an attempt to win back his wife. Silver Linings Playbook has a tightly woven script written by David O. Russell adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick and gives Cooper an opportunity to display his acting range as the frenetic obsessive and maladjusted man trying to put his life back together amidst the sometimes claustrophobic environment of his family home.

Jennifer Lawrence steals the show as the socially inept Tiffany who despite the psychological setbacks of both her and Patrick’s characters is determined to use dancing as a means of constructive therapy.

Silver Linings Playbook is more drama than comedy but Russell’s direction is imbued with a sensitivity and pace that allows the audience to sympathize with the dysfunctional characters Tiffany and Patrick amidst a community that does not quite grasp the complexities of people suffering from mental health problems such as post traumatic stress syndrome and bi polar.

The dance contest towards the end really is brilliant and offers a stage to resolve all domestic conflicts along with bringing a silver lining to this unique cinematic drama where the stakes are doubled (a parlay) and the characters are far from conventional. Chris Tucker, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz and Julia Stiles round off the quirky cast. Silver Linings Playbook is highly recommended for first rate acting a sure reason why there is such an Awards buzz. Jennifer Lawrence won a 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and walked away with the Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards in February 2013.

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