Cooper, Lawrence offer riveting performance in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Colin Gregory, Staff Writer

Football, family, dancing, and mental illness combine beautifully in the best film I’ve seen in a long time.
Directed with bruising humor and unbridled emotion by David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook” is something of small miracle. Combining performances that are flawless in every detail with one of the best scripts of the year, “Linings” is earnest in the best ways. It is hopeful, refreshing, and surprisingly exhilarating.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) gets out of a stint in a mental institution, vowing to put his life together. Before being institutionalized, he came home one day to find his wife with another man. So, as Pat himself puts it, he “snapped.” Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prone to mood swings and violent outbursts, Pat does eight months in the mental hospital. He moves back in with his parents after getting out, striving to get back his wife, who happens to have a restraining order against him.
Pat then forms an unlikely friendship with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), which complicates things. Tiffany has some real problems of her own.
Together they’re a compellingly dysfunctional pair. Watching the foul-mouthed and unpredictable duo figure out the quirks in each other’s personality is fascinating and enchanting.
And every quirk is played to perfection by Cooper, Lawrence, and Robert De Niro, who plays Pat’s gambling-addicted father.
De Niro is simply spectacular as Pat Sr. After losing his job, he becomes a bookie for NFL games, which brings out his OCD during football games that he’s betting on. He’s funny, curt, and can break your heart. A living legend, De Niro is downright brilliant.
And Cooper gives a performance that is superb — a performance that is thrillingly alive. He nails all the angst, all the heartache, all the uncertainty of a character that has some serious issues to hash out. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the proof that Cooper can flat-out act.
And then there’s Jennifer Lawrence. Fresh from her newfound “Hunger Games” fame, Lawrence is marvelously dazzling in every way. She is vulnerable, crude, sharp, hilarious and complicated, all in one unforgettable performance.
It’s hard to say which of the three does the best job, but they all deserve Academy Award nominations regardless.
One of the most enjoyable and thoroughly satisfying films of the year, “Silver Linings Playbook” is a masterpiece. I couldn’t have liked it more.