But while Cooper is excellent throughout the entire film, the true magic of the movie comes out during his interactions with Lawrence. Tiffany is a dark woman who initially seems exceedingly apathetic about everything. Her husband had been killed recently, and in the aftermath she snapped and dealt with her grief in a very provocative way, which caused her to lose her job. She now also lives with her parents and counts on one thing as her personal therapy: the upcoming dance competition, which she knows she has no chance of winning, but, “It's fun and it makes me feel good.” Lawrence has never been better on the screen, likewise delivering a stunning performance which already has her as the favorite for the Academy Award for Best Actress – an honor which would be greatly deserved.
While the film may appear to be on the surface a somewhat quirky black comedy, a closer look reveals some deeper themes. The script, adapted by Russell from the novel by Matthew Quick, can feel at times almost hyperbolic – but not overly so. While Pat and Tiffany are the “crazy” ones, it often feels like everyone else is crazy, too – and maybe Pat and Tiffany are in actuality the most sane of anyone. They strive to see the world as it is, and aren't at all shy about making observations, no matter how awkward they may be. “We aren't liars like they are,” says Tiffany at one point. Meanwhile, Pat's father (Robert De Niro) bets everything on football games, relying obsessively – almost violently – on superstitions to “make” his team, the Philadelphia Eagles, win (arranging the remote controls a certain way, handling a special handkerchief, etc.). His friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) has a beautiful wife and is very successful in his career, but hates every single moment of it – his wife is a bitch and his job sucks his soul dry – but he remains intentionally in a hellish situation because he doesn't know how to change.
Silver Linings Playbook is ultimately a film about being happy and finding the good – the “silver lining” – in all of life's negativity. It is about the importance of personal reflection and change and making ourselves the best we can be. And while these themes may sound shmaltzy and cliché, it is due to a near-perfect execution by Russell, Cooper, and Lawrence that it succeeds so spectacularly.
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