Complete A-Z list

Silver Linings Playbook


Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Dash Mihok, Paul Herman, Brea Bee

Director: David O Russell

Loveable crazies (as opposed, say, to Bates Motel owner Anthony Perkins and his fellow psychos) have long been a cinema staple in such films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Shine and A Beautiful Mind.

Now Cooper (in a star status-confirming performance) and Lawrence (ditto), beautifully aided and abetted by director Russell’s smart screen adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel, join the ranks of celluloid loonies in a hugely enjoyable romcom whose essential premise – mentally ill opposites attract – works unexpectedly well.

Bipolar former teacher Cooper, having lost his wife (Bee), his home and his job, emerges after eight months in a mental home and returns to live with his parents Weaver and De Niro, the latter suffering from OCD and addiction to football and out-of-his-league gambling.

When he meets Lawrence who, like him, suffers from mental problems and describes herself as a "crazy slut with a dead husband" it’s obvious they’re made for each other. And it’s equally obvious that they don’t know it, which makes their often-rocky relationship all the more interesting. Their initial meeting at the dinner party from hell where they exchange their medicine regimes and try to outdo each other with the pill-popping achievements is both very funny and character-illuminating, as is their continuing courtship.

Weaver is fine as the concerned mother and all the supporting roles (Rock is surprisingly good as Cooper’s fellow patient friend (it helps that his role is relatively small) are well cast and well played. I particularly enjoyed Kher’s transformation from serious shrink to out and out hooligan during the wild ruckus outside the Philadelphia football ground from which De Niro was banned. The biggest surprise for me, however, was De Niro’s genuinely funny comic performance, since I found his attempts at being funny in the ‘Focker’ comedies rather less amusing than a session with a drunken, rheumatism-ridden acupuncturist.

Not earth-shattering, perhaps, but entertainingly groundbreaking.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Technicolor.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 24 Nov 2012