Former high school teacher Pat (Bradley Cooper) returns to his parents’ home in Philadelphia after spending time in a mental institution for severely beating his wife’s lover. He is diagnosed as bipolar and wants to save his marriage and get his job back, but refuses to take his medication.
Pat decides, instead, to train and meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow, while running in the neighborhood. They are attracted to each other, but both have serious emotional issues. Pat realizes that Tiffany can get a letter to his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), despite the restraining order she has against him. In return for the favor, Pat agrees to become Tiffany’s ballroom dancing partner so she can compete in an upcoming contest.
Pat’s therapist tells him to come up with a strategy so he will respond appropriately instead of fighting when stressful situations come up. Add to the mix Pat’s father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), an obsessivecompulsive who gets into fights over his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team, and the stakes for a happy ending rise considerably.
Cooper and Lawrence have great chemistry, and Jacki Weaver, who plays Pat’s mother, is the calm, sane presence in this chaotic world wrought by good people who struggle to be the best they can be.
The title, Silver Linings Playbook, reflects Pat’s strategy to look for silver linings in life as well as in the family’s favorite football team. The film is one of the warmest, quirkiest love stories in years—a perfect blend of humor, pathos, heart, and hope for flawed and broken humanity. This film may rival Lincoln for Oscar attention.
Not yet rated, R ■ Language, brawling, and mature themes.