The Silver Linings Playbook is what can best be described as a psychological romantic comedy. It’s a story centered around Pat (Bradley Cooper), a man with anger issues and a crippling inability to let go of the past. He meets a widow named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who is coping with serious guilt, and together they strike up a friendship based on mutual need, which, as one can expect in a movie involving two young, attractive people, quickly blossoms into something more.
What “Silver Linings” does is take the standard rom-com formula and combine it with the sort of psychological drama that one might expect in a more downbeat drama. Add some sizzling dialogue, a cast of talented actors (notable is Robert DeNiro, whose performance as a superstitious, OCD father is quite possible Oscar-worthy), and a lot of dry, tongue-in-cheek humor and you have what turns out to be a pretty successful movie.
If this is a hybrid of comedy and drama, then the comedy is much more defined than the drama. The plot is actually pretty by-the-numbers, and surprisingly un-suspenseful when you get down to it. Sure, there are a few obligatory moments of conflict, but they’re all wrapped up pretty neatly and uneasily. When tone of the most climactic scenes in the film is an argument over the defeat of a football team, you know it’s not exactly a high-stakes, gut-wrenching type of story.
What makes “Silver Linings” watchable isn’t the question of how things will be resolved, how it will all turn out, or what will happen next. It comes from the wit and the earnest, heartfelt performances of its actors. It’s about the characters more than it is about what happens to them. It’s about laughing at them, and with them, and watching them learn to be better people.
At times, the film can become a tad overwhelming. When you have scene after scene of these high-energy, fast-talking characters yelling at each other in confined spaces, your brain starts to ache after a while. The script never slows down or lets up, and the dialogue is almost non-stop, until you’re longing for just a moment of calm amidst all that clutter. But while this is a legitimate criticism of the film’s script, it’s a minor one. Silver Linings Playbook is a movie offers you a couple of likeable, albeit flawed characters and asks you to root for them even as you laugh at their foibles. As it turns out, when you have characters and lines like these, that’s all you need to make a fun, heartwarming movie.