Director/Writer David O. Russell has another brilliant movie out, most mentioned The Fighter (2011), but I say I Heart Huckabee (2004). Loving the latter, it makes me love Silver Linings Playbook even more!
The film starts out with Pat incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital in Baltimore as his sentencing condition; his mom, Dolores(Jacki Weaver) has obtained a conditional court release order, and they are on their way home, when ward buddy Danny(Chris Tucker) shows up and hitches for a ride… that’s how this serious-funny-real-crazy-down-to-earth movie begins.
Pat(Bradley Cooper) is diagnosed Bi-polar, and we see his manic state (up reading till 4 am), but rarely his depression. We also see his bad temper, which started his problems. We also know his father, Pat Sr.(Robert De Niro) may be suffering from OCD: the all so subtle question of nature vs. nurture. Then we have love-at-first-sight moment between Pat and Tiffany(Jennifer Lawrence), most likely a depressive, with self-esteem issue, growing up in the shadow of perfect big sis. In addition, the classic compensation mechanism of always being selfless and helpful…
This is as far as the film deals with the kid-gloves issues of mental disorders. Yes, it also touches on drugs or no drugs. There was a study I read that when one was in a happy mood, one’s learning capability increased; so I hope this will have that effect, cause behind all the labelled disorders, we must remember that there are real human-beings.
Underneath it all, it seems to me the Aha is about how we communicate or not communicate. The brilliant scene and dialogues of Pat and Tiffany first encounter proves my point extremely well: two strangers are communicating their experience in the same lingo within an intense five minutes. No doubts, Pat.Sr. loves his son, yet he couldn’t convey that through hugs or words, but he is constantly hoping their father-son communications through scores and stats of their beloved NFL team Eagles will bring them closer again. Then of course, we have the classic mommy unconditional love, and the relentless hope that her son is “better”. Funny thing is does anyone really know what “better” means to a person who is suffering? It is basically telling them “to be like us asap!”; in other words, the less harsh version of “snap out of it!” So be aware when you are telling your friend with an intangible illness to get better soon, especially when he didn’t just break a bone or something like that!
So just like I Heart Huckabee, there are many layers to this film, and keeping it funny and not condescending or stereotypical perhaps make this a must-see. On top you will also see Jennifer Lawrence‘s Oscar performance, i.e., the scene between her and maestro Robert De Niro… at that moment. I thought I was at my friend’s house!!! yes, that good.
WATCH at least twice!