The Silver Linings Playbook is a love story about grief, football, dancing and mental illness. The film is just as clumsy about psychological issues as Hollywood movies generally are, but Jennifer Lawrence's performance makes all that moot.
The talk you hear about her possible Oscar nomination for this role is well-founded.
Bradley Cooper stars in the film as Pat Solitano, a teacher who has spent several months in a psychiatric hospital after having had some kind of psychotic break over his wife's affair. Pat is being released and will live with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) because divorce has also left him unemployed and homeless. He is determined to win back his wife's love, and so he begins a special routine of jogging, reading and general self-improvement.
It's heartbreaking, because Pat is obviously not entirely back on the side of good mental health, but it's also blackly funny.
Pat meets a woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has problems of her own. She's a recent widow; her approach to dealing with grief involves having sex with as many men as possible. She and Pat are well-matched for anger, awkwardness and anti-social behaviour, but once she talks him into entering a dance contest with her, an odd and intriguing relationship begins to develop.
On the outskirts of Pat and Tiffany's story are small, wonderful moments with Chris Tucker as a fellow inmate, Julia Stiles as a hard-nosed friend, Anupam Kher as one of Pat's psychiatrists and Robert De Niro as a man obsessed with signs, portents, good luck charms and the Philadelphia Eagles (Weaver, the truly awesome Aussie actress you know from Animal Kingdom and The Five-Year Engagement, is not given nearly enough to do in this movie.)
It's impossible not to notice that Jennifer Lawrence inhabits her character completely while Bradley Cooper never really stops being Bradley Cooper, bipolar quirks notwithstanding.
Never mind. Aside from that, The Silver Linings Playbook is an entertaining movie and a crowd pleaser, no question.