Silver Screen Lined With Gold Stars
14 / 02 / 2013
Silver Linings Playbook is a film receiving a swag of nominations, awards, and accolades. VWT Communications and Project Support officer Elisabeth Morgan was lucky enough to take a few hours off work, catch the flick and provide this commendatory review. Subscribers to Sheilas can win a double pass to Silver Linings Playbook in the email version of this edition. If you’re reading via our website, make sure you sign up to our free subscription for future possible prizes to win! Enter your email into the subscribe field on the homepage.
Silver Linings Playbook is the latest film written and directed by David O. Russell, the man behind I ♥ Huckabees (2004). Released after eight months in a mental hospital, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is living under the watchful eyes of his suburban parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro). Pat is struggling to cope with bipolar episodes accentuated by his recent marriage separation. He is hellbent on reconciling with his wife when friends of the couple introduce him to Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), an emotionally troubled widow also living with her parents. When Pat rejects Tiffany’s advances, she offers to deliver a letter to his wife in exchange for his partnership in a dance competition. Despite Pat’s fixation on his past relationship, the bond between the pair blossoms.
All main performances in this film are exceptional. Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) has been Oscar-nominated for her impeccable portrayal of the wounded, spirited, complex, and brave Tiffany. Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) delivers an endearing performance as Pat, a naïve and conflicted ex-school teacher. Robert De Niro is a suitable paternal match as Pat Sr. – gruff, sentimental, and football-crazed, with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Australian actor Jacki Weaver authenticates Dolores, the maternal clasp holding the family together.
Silver Linings Playbook is original, yet comfortable – in a word, ‘quirky’. It encompasses drama, comedy and a romance between two unconventional protagonists. Some reviewers have criticised the film for portraying mental illness “unrealistically”, but heavy-handed analysis would have resulted in a different viewing experience altogether. Silver Linings is airy and non-judgemental; it explores relationships and emotional frailty in all human beings, whether clinically diagnosed or not. Pat and Tiffany are dealing with the aftermath of traumatic events: the death of Tiffany’s husband and Pat’s wife’s infidelity. Assisted by sharp, raw, and disarming dialogue, their vulnerabilities are profoundly relatable.
The film also pokes fun at the subjective nature of ‘normal’. Tiffany’s sister (Julia Styles) is sceptical of Pat’s highly-strung demeanour, yet spends a good part of her dinner party raving about a mid-wall fireplace and iPod sound system (“I can play music for the baby in every room!”) Her passive husband confides in Pat about feeling suffocated in the marriage and sneaking off to the shed to crank Metallica and “smash shit up”. The unguarded honesty between Tiffany and Pat’s exchanges seems all the more genuine in comparison, and their understanding of one another’s needs more complete.
Sometimes we’re most easily moved when we can relax and laugh at our shared humanity. Never underestimate the power of whimsy – it has its own special brand of potency.
Elisabeth Morgan works in Communications & Project Support at the Victorian Women’s Trust and assists with the production of Sheilas. Her poetry has been published in Voiceworks and she has written articles, reviews, and interviews for Sheilas, Lip, and Feminaust. Elisabeth also edits Trust Women and the VWT e-bulletin (subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org).