Monday, 17 September 2012

Silver Linings Playbook Review: Can you find the Silver Lining in your life’s Playbook?

“Life is a struggle that no one actually survives.”
It’s a difficult thing to do, figure out how to cope with the world around you and the problems you encounter. Things are hard, they take work and even then there aren’t really any guarantees you’ll achieve anything. Is it any wonder that people go a little crazy? How crazy can things get though? Perhaps what’s crazy is the world around us, or even the people in it. No matter what it is some people can’t cope, or they don’t cope very well. At the core of Silver Lining Playbook is the question of what do you do then. How do you deal with a world that makes you crazy?
The story centers around Pat, a guy recently released from a mental institution after a traumatic incident sent him over the edge with a condition he didn’t know he had. Now living with his parents, he struggles to figure out how to move forward when in some ways he is still very much stuck in the life he left behind. With no job, no prospects and a town full of people who know what happened to him, he tries to find some aspect of his life to hold onto while managing his condition. What he ends up holding onto is his wife. Very much out of his life since the incident, Pat becomes focused on the idea of getting his wife back despite the reality that he isn’t allowed to communicate with her.
Sufficed to say this proves to be more difficult then it seems to him and he begins looking for a work around to this problem through his very supportive friends and family. There’s only one problem, his friends and family aren’t the benchmarks for normality either. And this becomes the perfect mix for a family rom-com with an interesting twist on it. It’s long been a staple of the romantic comedy genre to question the idea of normal. Stories from the 80s and 90s were big on this kind of theme, particularly in the realm of the high school drama version of a romantic comedy. Since then many stories have tried to establish what normal is, or at least what we want normal to be with some success here and there.
For Silver Linings Playbook however, normal is in fact the abnormal. Most of the characters have some strange way of dealing with the world. But in particular what makes it all work is the quirky way in which Pat, as played by Bradley Cooper, lives in the world. He is very honest and direct with people about what he sees or feels yet he does it with a kind of charm and openness about himself that it’s hard to feel insulted by him. Topped off by the fact that he has learned to try and look for the silver lining in even the most horrible things.
What’s interesting is that because of the unusual nature of the characters, I was never quite sure where they will end up. Romantic comedies have a tendency to go in certain ways. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. More recently they’ve tended to get a little ridiculous with their storylines. This film feels neither ridiculous nor cheap. It goes for the emotionally honest moments and with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Chris Tucker and Bradley Cooper in the roles they manage to hit them pretty well.
Can you find the Silver Lining in your life? I can honestly say that this movie is something of a silver lining in my life right now.


  1. A Hollywood movie is a silver lining in your life? Wow