This November brings the arrival of the buzzed about Silver Linings Playbook to our cinema screens. It’s already a festival favourite, beating Ben Affleck’s much-hyped potential Oscar contender Argo to the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film tells the story of former teacher Pat as he tries to patch up his life after returning home from a stint in a mental institution, and his meeting and growing bond with Tiffany, a young woman still struggling in the wake of her husband’s death.
Director David O’Russell has brought together a cast of well-loved actors who have already proven themselves in various fields; Jennifer Lawrence already has a legion of fans from her lead in The Hunger Games and an Academy Best Actress nomination for Winter’s Bone, but this now gives her a chance to showcase her comedic talents alongside that emotional depth. Whilst Bradley Cooper won over both the males and females in the audience as the suave best man of The Hangover films, with Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver rounding out the cast this is decidedly more grown up fare.
Although the trailer focuses on the humorous elements of the film, and some reviewers are assuring belly laughs, both the protagonists are dealing with some serious emotional issues. Mental illness is rarely addressed in Hollywood with the amount of warmth and understanding The Silver Linings Playbook appears to promise. The characters are not supposed to be defined by their illnesses and O’Russell points out that they turn out to be some of the sanest people in movie. It is instead the blunt honesty of Pat and Tiffany, apparent in the trailer – “You look nice. How did Tommy die?” which is designed to provoke reactions and provide something refreshing for the audience. Who hasn’t ever wished they could just say whatever is on their mind regardless of consequences?
The storyline may seem fairly predictable, with the down-on-his-luck man meeting a quirky and unusual female to trade witty comebacks with, but this is no ‘manic pixie dream girl’ in cute 50s dresses. This is a smart comedy drama which has won praise for treating its audience like intelligent grown ups. However, festival audiences don’t always represent the majority of the film going population and what with having no superheroes or strippers in it The Silver Linings Playbook may not appeal to everyone. Though it does promise to be a warm and well acted (there is talk of nomination number two for Lawrence) film that deserves to be a must see. Even if it is just for the reason that you want to witness with your own eyes the evidence that Bradley Cooper can look good even wearing a bin bag.