Silver Linings Playbook - Blu-ray Review

'This is a film about relating to and with mental disorders, overcoming restraints that seem to threaten our vital social fabric.'

By collecting the film's sole Oscar, the fantastic Jennifer Lawrence threatens to do David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook a disservice. A remarkable film about mental disorders and trauma, family and friend relationships and - that old chestnut - the endurance of the human spirit, SLP is as good as Russell has ever been, as good as Bradley Cooper has ever been and as good as Robert DeNiro has been in years. Lawrence shines bright here but this isn't just 'her film'. There's too much good work everywhere for that to be the case.

Playing opposite her, Cooper is a remarkable world away from The Hangover's Phil, or The A-Team's Face. Suffering from a never-fully revealed mental disorder (although we are told he is bipolar), Pat (Cooper) struggles to prioritise and relate appropriately to people, a problem given that his driving force throughout is to reconcile with his wife, who has left him. It sounds on paper here as though Russell is generalising 'mental disorder' but the feeling Cooper and the director leave you with is anything but. It almost doesn't matter what exact conditions Pat is suffering from. This is a film about relating to and with mental disorders, overcoming restraints that seem to threaten our vital social fabric.

In tandem with this, Tiffany is attempting to break free from the suffocating grasp of depression. Again, the portrayal by Russell and Lawrence is revolutionary. Tiffany doesn't sit in a corner moping throughout. She laughs, has fun, seems alert and assertive. But underneath there are the remnants of a condition as debilitating as Pat's. They break out in odd scenes, perfectly placed by Russell, but otherwise, like Pat, the reminder here is refreshingly honest: don't forget that the people who suffer from conditions such as these are human too.

Like any great film, the small elements of SLP attain perfection. Pat's costuming signifies his rise from the grip of his disorder. Starting in matching jogging bottoms and hoodie, accessorised with a black bin bag covering, he ends a preening peacock; fitted shirt and suit. Pat literally casts off stigma and emotional weight as he attains the ability to outwardly show the weight loss every character somewhat hilariously tells him he has achieved. The imagery perhaps gets a bit obvious towards the middle but the idea of the two broken protagonists dating on Halloween feels too good for it to be bad and the cascade of books from Pat's bed at about the time he realises he must let go of some of his past is likewise. The soundtrack - upbeat, pumping, modern, exactly the sort of thing two normal people the leads age would listen to and completely lacking the oft-predictable soaring strings this sort of material seems to attract - is another step out from under the burden of issues-led cliché.

The final third is emotional and tense and there will be few who get there without becoming tearfully attached to the fates of Pat and Tiffany. By this finale, in a film that has already achieved several amazing things, Silver Linings Playbook decides to conclude by successfully creating an argument for the emotional benefits of Strictly Come Dancing. If that's not awards worthy, I don't know what is.



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