Sunday, February 10, 2013

Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook (2012) -- Overall Rating 3 / 5

Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by David O. Russell
Rated R

Story: 3 / 5
Direction: 2 / 5
Acting: 4 / 5
Visual: 3 / 5
Overall Rating: 3 / 5
Explanation of rating categories appears at the bottom of each review posting.

Silver Linings Playbook is a heartfelt story about a young man coming to terms with his mental illness and in the process finding the woman of his dreams. It wasn't too bad.

Thanks for reading!

Oh, should I go into more detail?

As mentioned it’s the story of a man (Bradley Cooper, played here by Sir Laurence Olivier) who has just gotten out of a psychiatric hospital. He was put there after assaulting his wife’s lover upon finding them together in his home. He suffers from bi-polar disorder, among other things, and is convinced his wife still loves him and he can work things out with her. Soon after his release he meets a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence, played here by Vivien Leigh) who has her own behavioral issues following the death of her husband. They form a bond that is pretty obvious from the previews, so I’m not spoiling anything there. I don’t want to go into any more details, that’s just the surface stuff, you obviously learn more as the film progresses.

It’s a decent story, but clumsily handled by the direction. The film doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a charming tale with some heavy moments or is it a heavy tale with some levity? I have no idea, because the film didn’t have any idea. Thankfully the performances rescue it. Bradley Cooper, whose most challenging role before this was playing opposite Jessica Biel’s rack in The A-Team, really carries the film. Jennifer Lawrence has had her share of meaty roles and does a fine job of elevating this slightly below par material. Her ass alone should have gotten a supporting Oscar nomination.

I couldn’t help but wonder how this movie would have turned out in the hands of someone like Alexander Payne. He’s someone who knows how to wrangle serious material with just the right touch of comedy. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think what really took me out of the film was the “parlay” scene near the end. You’ll know it once you see it. Nothing in there made any sense to me. Thankfully the final act really rescues the movie

Would I recommend this film? I think I would. It’s an alright story, it’s got great performances, and the final act is really good.

Explanation of Ratings

All ratings are on a 5 point scale where 1 is the lowest possible score. A score of 3 indicates the film was simply effective in this regard. A score of 5 indicates perfection in a given category. The overall rating is a simple average of the four scores.

  • Story -- How well the film was written?  Did the story make sense?  Were there plot holes?  Was the dialogue natural for the style/genre?
  • Direction -- How well was the film put together?  Did all of the elements come together properly?  How was the pacing?  Was the tone consistent and effective?  A subcategory of this would be editing, but for the purpose of these reviews it is combined into one category.
  • Acting -- How good were the performances?  In a drama did the lead actor/actress draw the audience in?  In a comedy where the performers funny?  This is an amalgam score of all the performances in the piece. A single great performance can elevate the entire score, but a bunch of bad performances can just as easily bring it down.
  • Visual -- How did the film look?  If there were visual effects were they used appropriately and did they look good?  Did the overall look enhance the telling of the story?


  1. A lighthearted look at mental illness and its effects on families. The movie also shows that with counseling, family support and positive psychology, one can change for the better. Very good acting by all but Jennifer Lawrence steals the show. Her portrayal of a needy, troubled woman was extremely good. This movie leaves you feeling good. Probably not the best movie of the year but worth a watch or two.

    1. I will certainly agree that counseling and positive psychology helped Pat (the protagonist), but it would be hard for me to see how his family helped him at all. His father consistently tried to put him in the middle of his gambling shenanigans. His brother was a prick. His mother was an air head. All of his friends, except Tiffany and Danny (Chris Tucker), were rude to him or afraid of him.

      Possibly it could be argued that he was helped by seeing how terrible these people were and elevated by not wanting to be like them. Though really I think it's his relationship with Tiffany that does the most good. I could write 5000 words on the poetry and significance of the dance routine at the end alone.