As he did in The Fighter, David O. Russell focuses on the malfunctioning familial mechanics that prove unconditional love for broken beings (be it mentally or emotionally unstable) is necessary in accepting. In turn Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic tale about two damaged souls who help each other cope, in ways they don’t understand. Even if one—Pat—can’t see it.
There’s Bradley Cooper’s Pat, whose mental unhealthiness is brought on by heartbreak and shock; and Jennifer Lawrence, whose Tiffany is just as “crazy” as Pat, except she’s aware of her emptiness and fragile state. Lawrence’s performance is as blunt as her character is outspoken, while Cooper plays Pat with a certain uneasy unawareness. Together, they distract from one another’s problems.
Pat’s weary parents are played by a football-crazed-OCD’ed Robert Deniro, and an endearing, caring Jacki Weaver. Deniro is just as mental as his son, and Weaver plays Dolores, the glue and voice-of-reason in an otherwise looney household.
But as their interactions play out, you wonder: is Russell suggesting that there’s a possibility passion is being mistaken for mental illness? Or is it that you can’t be passionate without being labeled unhealthy? Perhaps a bit of both, but that’s what makes the film, and performances, much more riveting. A