This clever and original American film is the first movie in over 30 years to score Oscar nominations in all four acting categories. Its originality lies in the quirkiness with which it portrays contemporary family life in America, and it was adapted from the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick.
The film centres its plot on a disturbed, ex-mental patient, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who has been deserted by his wife and charged for assaulting her lover. It tells the story of his personal search to reestablish his marriage. He believes passionately that "if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining".
In the course of pursuing that goal, he meets an equally disturbed young girl, Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), and they begin to form a relationship that survives the ups and downs of mutual mental disturbance. He is bipolar, and she is severely depressed and a possible sex-addict.
Mental disturbance features strongly elsewhere in the movie. Pat's father is obsessive and a football fanatic, his best friend suffers from anxiety neurosis, and his mother lives on the edge of permanently being unable to cope.
Robert de Niro plays Patrizio Solitano, his father, and Australia's Jackie Weaver plays his mother, Dolores, and all four main actors give outstanding performances.
The emotional themes of this movie are designed to be troubling. They deal with mental illness, marital failure, inability to cope, and profound personal vulnerability. People survive in this movie by constantly negotiating through their vulnerabilities, and the fact that this all happens in a comic way makes the film particularly quirky and unusual. The movie is genuinely funny and romantic.
Combating negativity in life offers a goal that has universal appeal. Resolving it so simply is not as convincing as this very different and watchable movie would have us believe. - Peter Sheehan, Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, and Jackie Weaver. Directed by David O. Russell. Rated M (Mature themes, coarse language, sexual references and violence). 122 min.
The silver linings playbook