Like most indie films, it is a little bit ‘wishy washy’ - the narrative meanders for the first half, taking you on a journey, but stopping to visit the all sights on the side of the road. I suppose this works because it’s not an action heavy movie, but I personally prefer a little more pace. That said, it does pick up, and the story becomes something quite charming.
Writer/Director David O’Russell’s works include Oscar winner The Fighter (for which Christian Bale earned his statue for Best Supporting Actor) and the not so brilliant Three Kings, as well as other forays into the world of indie movies such 2004’s I Heart Huckabees, the surrealist existential detective comedy.
I love Bradley Cooper in this. Not only does he have an understated wit, he’s taken what could’ve been quite a difficult character and is pretty brave with it. The character’s growth in maturity throughout the film is heartfelt and carefully portrayed in a funny, but sensitive way. I liked the fact that Pat became the instrument for his own solution when he realises that what he’s striving for isn’t actually what he wants.
Jennifer Lawrence shows a maturity befitting someone much older than her twenty-two years. She demonstrates an incredible ability to take on dramatically varying and meaty roles that actors twice her age might struggle with. Her character Tiffany, a young widow and sister to Pat’s best friend’s uptight wife (Julia Stiles), uses sex and a somewhat twisted sense of humour as a barrier to hold the demons of her past and other people at bay. This simultaneously repulses Pat and sparks his interest, and thus a seed of intrigue is created.
Pat and Tiffany’s relationship is volatile, yet hopelessly endearing. The very public arguments and Tourettes-like banter are something to behold. It may be their similarities bring them together, but it’s the things that frustrate them about each other that ultimately form the bond between them. Lawrence and Cooper will also be starring together in Depression-era drama Serena alongside Brits Rhys Ifans and Toby Jones next year, so it would seem they must’ve gotten on pretty well.
The Solitano family clearly have some underlying neuroses that haven’t been dealt with. This is particularly true of Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), whose superstitious tendencies are more like that of a serious case of OCD. De Niro gives a touching performance as a man trying to understand his son’s mental illness with a mind clouded by his own frailties. He’s also a bookie obsessed with seeing the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys in the play-offs – this is something that he uses to try to reconcile with Pat. Couple that with a nerve-wracked wife, a tactless other son and a band of misfits that keep turning up at the Solitano house, and a dysfunctional family starts to form under the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Silver Linings is definitely a feel good movie: despite a bit of a slow start, you won’t be bored, and Pat and Tiffany’s journeys of self-discovery (both individual and mutual) will most certainly give you a case of the warm and fuzzies. Watch this on a Saturday night with a bunch of friends and you won’t fail to have a good time.