The best thing about watching a movie is that it shows us a world different from our own. Whether fantastical or realistic, dramatic or comedic, these films offer a path to escape from our problems and concerns. And, if really good, a film might offer a new life perspective to consider.
I can’t say I have a favorite film, but one of the first films that spring to mind when asked is David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” Based on the same-name novel, the film follows Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, who comes home to live with his parents after staying in a psychiatric hospital while diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He plans to reunite with his ex-wife Nikki, but that plan soon gets complicated after he meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence. We learn that Tiffany has depression and relationship issues. The film tackles multiple themes and ideas with which people can relate, from mental challenges to family ties and love. The film raises questions about how we should respond when faced with setbacks, and how we should embrace new opportunities and second chances.
The design of the film is very personal. Russell uses a combination of medium and standard close-ups of his characters, giving the film a more intimate feel. His selective focus on the characters’ faces furthers that effect. The narration is primarily Pat’s point of view, connecting viewers to the mental and emotional struggles he endures. This somewhat extends to Tiffany as well, especially toward the end of the film as her relationship with Pat reaches a crossroad, highlighting both characters’ emotional journeys throughout the film.
All the performances in “Silver Linings Playbook” are fantastic. Cooper sells Pat’s emotional peaks and valleys throughout the film, making me feel deeply for that character. Lawrence performs much the same as Tiffany. Balancing heavy subjects with comedy is not easy, but Cooper and Lawrence pull it off seamlessly. Their on-screen chemistry is undeniable, providing one of the focal points of the film. Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver also add a dynamic as Pat’s parents. As a testament to their work, all four lead actors were nominated at the Oscars, with Lawrence winning her first for Best Actress.
Much like its title suggests, “Silver Linings Playbook” is ultimately a story about how we can find the good in the bad, the silver lining behind the cloud. This movie gets me every single time, because its premise is quiet, yet powerful. It isn’t a story that changes the world, but it is a story that changes a personal world — for the better. “Silver Linings Playbook” is one of those rare movies that offers new perspective, to escape into a life where characters can overcome difficult situations. It makes me believe that love is endless and accessible to all of us despite — and perhaps even because of — our flaws. Despite the pain we may feel or troubles we may face, there will always be people there to pick us up when we fall, and this film helps me to remember that.