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Silver Linings Playbook [DVD]

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Last updated on 29th Jul 2013

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Silver Linings Playbook [DVD]

In lesser hands than director David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook could have been a typically cringe-inducing throwaway Hollywood rom-com. As it is, this unusual and deeply affecting story of crazy love is a bold observation about the joys and tragedy of life lived by deeply flawed characters facing triumph and adversity against a backdrop of painfully familiar family dysfunction. It's also a tremendous achievement in formal structure, with a flair for storytelling that's as moving as it is delightful.

Bradley Cooper plays Pat, an until-recently undiagnosed bipolar person who's just home from a lengthy stay in a mental institution and doing his darnedest to get his head and his life back on track. His concerned parents, vividly embodied by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, have plenty of troubles of their own when they warily take him in and tiptoe around the eggshells of a psyche that still veers wildly from seeming self-control to scary bouts of mania.

Pat has a plan to win back the unfaithful wife whose restraining order is still in force because of the violent episode that sent him away after he nearly killed her lover. Interjected into this wobbly family scenario is Tiffany, a friend of a friend who is embroiled in her own turmoil of mental instability following the recent death of her husband.

Jennifer Lawrence is a charming revelation as Tiffany, flexing sensitive acting muscles that are as toned as her lithe form. She throws herself into the role of a depressed, promiscuous young woman who needs Pat in her life about as much as she needs another personal tornado to rip her apart.

But the movie magically reveals that these two disturbed souls have a destiny that's never really in doubt; although the whirlwind turns the movie takes to get them there are often breathtaking. Russell liberally adapted the movie from Matthew Quick's 2008 novel, and he deftly imbues the story with a vibrant sense of place (suburban, blue-collar Philadelphia) and each character, no matter how tangential to Pat and Tiffany's journey, with quirks and nuances that brilliantly reveal their essence.

The subject of mental illness has rarely been portrayed with such honesty and candid respect. Constantly keeping us off guard, Silver Linings Playbook soars from darkness to a kind of screwball comedy that is as tender and touching as it is unpredictable.

There are several tour-de-force moments that Russell constructs...

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