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Film review: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

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Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are crazy … in love in Silver Linings Playbook.

The Details

Silver Linings Playbook
Two and a half stars
Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Directed by David O. Russell
Rated R
Beyond the Weekly
Official Movie Site
IMDb: Silver Linings Playbook
Rotten Tomatoes: Silver Linings Playbook

Few things are more reliably embarrassing than Hollywood’s attempts to address mental illness, especially in the context of a romantic comedy (or “dramedy,” since one can only make so much light of a serious mood disorder). Fifteen years ago, As Good as It Gets saw Helen Hunt win an Oscar for making Jack Nicholson want to be a better man, in a painful misrepresentation of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) employs her own steely, cut-the-crap moves to beguile a bipolar Bradley Cooper in the equally phony—yet also highly acclaimed, for some reason—Silver Linings Playbook.

Newly sprung from an eight-month stint in the psych ward following a violent altercation with his wife’s lover, Cooper’s Pat Solitano wants nothing more than to repair his marriage. But a restraining order forces him into a tempestuous relationship with a buddy’s widowed sister-in-law (Lawrence), who’s every bit his equal when it comes to manic episodes.

The film was adapted from Matthew Quick’s novel by David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees), who struggles in vain to find a coherent tone; early scenes are a nonstop cavalcade of shouting and “kooky” aberrant behavior, all of which somehow gets shoehorned into a formulaic finale involving both a professional football game (Pat’s dad, played by Robert De Niro, is a sports bookie—with his own OCD issues, no less) and an amateur dance contest. Nothing rings true, least of all the crowd-pleasing notion that manic depression magically vanishes if you find the right partner.

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