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The Independent Critic

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles and Chris Tucker
David O. Russell
Matthew Quick (Novel), David O. Russell
Rated R
122 Mins.
The Weinstein Company
deleted scenes, featurettes "Silver Linings Playbook: The Movie That Became a Movement," "Dance Rehearsal" and "Going Steadicam With Bradley Cooper." Also, on Blu-ray: Q&A highlights and "Learn to Dance Like Pat and Tiffany" featurette.

 "Silver Linings Playbook" is one of 2012's Best Films 
As a furloughed mental patient who has lost everything, Bradley Cooper affirms the sneaking suspicion that the handsome actor mostly known for comedies can actually act in Silver Linings Playbook, one of 2012's best films and proof positive that director David O. Russell's return to critical glory with The Fighter was definitely no fluke.

Said to be inspired to make the film because he himself has a son with Bipolar Disorder, Russell's work is easily his strongest in a career that has consistently accounted for intriguing and entertaining cinema. Based upon a novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook is difficult to define yet that's precisely the type of film that The Weinstein Company excels at promoting. It'll be interesting to see if the film's inevitable critical praise can be matched by its box-office prowess.

In the film, Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a recently diagnosed manic depressive whose response to his wife's affair cost him his teaching career, his marriage, his finances and his freedom. Upon release from the facility where he was involuntarily committed, Solitano is determined to win back his wife and his job with that early healing journey zest that anyone who has ever been around mental illness will easily recognize. Scared that he may end up hurting himself or his ex-wife, his friends try to divert his attention towards Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a recently widowed young woman with a less than impressive reputation herself.

The two resist each other, preferring to use the "F" word (friend) their relationship. They end up making a deal with each other that Tiffany will help broker a meeting between Pat and his ex-wife if he will help her enter a dance competition.

Sparks will fly in just about every way possible.

This performance by Jennifer Lawrence brings to mind her Oscar-nominated work in Winter's Bone, and the young actress again proves that with only minor exceptions she's proving excellent at choosing both box-office friendly and critically praiseworthy cinematic projects. Lawrence finds every little nuance in her character here, the heart and humor and vulnerability and brashness that can all work together to combine life and mental illness and life with mental illness. With this performance, Lawrence again lays a solid claim to yet another Oscar nomination and a win wouldn't exactly be a surprise.

After a string of sub-par comic films, Robert De Niro finally once again finds a film worthy of his talent with Silver Linings Playbook. While Russell's adaptation doesn't call on the actor to be the brilliant actor that we know he is, it does call for him to present a complex performance as Pat's father, a man whose primary interest is in watching his beloved Philadelphia Eagles and who is fairly much ill-equipped to deal with his son's baggage. Jacki Weaver also does a nice job as the mother in the equation. Chris Tucker and Julia Stiles also do a nice job as supporting players.

Silver Linings Playbook may very well be best defined by its absolute dedication to the joy of its participants,a joy that may seem flawed yet is richly authentic and more refreshing than just about anything I've seen on the big screen in quite some time. Rather than throwing the usual Hollywood tripe at the screen, Russell gives us a film with jagged edges and honest imperfections. The cast follows suit by presenting their characters as flawed yet wondrous beings capable of quirk and humanity and brilliance and joy.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic