Not Every Silver Lining Leaves You Satisfied

I wanted to like Silver Linings Playbook more than I did, and really anticipated seeing it when it came to Whitehorse, two months after its release practically everywhere else.

It has eight Oscar nominations going for it, plus a solid cast of Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The film also deals with a theme of some professional interest to me — mental illness.

Yet the film fell flat about halfway through.

Silver Linings Playbook features Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano, a Philadelphia resident who has just been released from a mental institution in Baltimore.

We never really get to find out what avocation Pat pursues when he’s not busy being a mental patient. But he plays his role to the hilt, waking up his parents in the middle of the night to loudly criticize an Ernest Hemingway novel, or running through the house at a similar hour in a frantic search for his wedding video.

The immediate cause of Pat’s consternation is the discovery of his wife Nikki in the shower with the history professor at the local school where she teaches English. After attempting to beat his rival to a pulp, Pat is confined for treatment, with a restraining order that’s been issued upon his release.

He believes he can reconcile with his wife, and has long monologues with himself on the subject.

One day while he’s out doing his daily run, he literally bumps into Jennifer, an attractive neighbour who also has a mental health history to cope with.

Jennifer is acquainted with Nikki through her sister, and Pat tries to talk her into delivering a letter to his wife.

Jennifer agrees, but only after extracting a promise from Pat to be her partner at an upcoming ballroom dancing competition.

And that’s where things started falling off the rails.

Pat’s father has become the neighbourhood bookmaker after being fired from his job. He’s a rabid Philadelphia Eagles football fan, and believes that his son has the ability to bring his team luck. This means going to a crucial home game for the Eagles on behalf of his father, who’s banned from the stadium.

Pat’s divided loyalties to Jennifer and his dad bring the whole dramatic endeavour crashing down to the level of a TV sitcom. And the “rah-rah” Americanism of the whole situation left me cold and disinterested, waiting impatiently for the whole silly mess to play itself out to its predictable conclusion.

In this respect, the film seems to adhere to the jingoism displayed in its fellow Oscar contenders like Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo.

The film emerges as a whole lot less than the sum of its admirable parts, and doesn’t quite stand up to its billing, nor is it worthy of the Oscar nominations that have been inexplicably showered upon it.

Silver Linings Playbook plays at the Yukon Theatre at 6:45 pm only, and is rated 14-A.

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