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“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) Review and Second Opinion

Silver Linings Playbook poster

Silver Linings Playbook was off my radar for a while. Then, I heard some good things about the film, saw it got nominated for a list of Oscars and other awards, and saw my fiance had an interest in seeing it. This caused Silver Linings to quickly jump up to the top of my Netflix queue. I have to say that I was legitimately looking forward to seeing it. However, once I popped in the film and sat through its two-hour run time, I was sorely disappointed. I honestly can’t even say I liked Silver Linings Playbook – it just really wasn’t good. The only thing I was left thinking about the film about mental illness, romance, and the Philadelphia Eagles was where all the praise came from.

I might as well start with the main redeeming quality of the film – the acting. Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro both give great performances as expected – the surprise is Bradley Cooper who delivers an excellent performance. Cooper and Lawrence play well off each other and some of their back and forth banter is genuinely well acted. The supporting cast also does a great job of enhancing the central characters’ performances. Despite my negative opinion of the film as a whole, one thing I have to give Silver Linings credit for is its high quality acting. Still, while I say the acting is high quality, I want to clarify that I didn’t think it was award-winning – as such I don’t think Lawrence deserved her Academy Award for Best Actress (while I may be biased toward the incredible performance given by the young Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, I still think other actresses were better than Lawrence last year).

So, sure, Silver Linings has a positive in its acting. Unfortunately, this positive is quickly wasted on poorly designed characters and asinine dialogue. Don’t get me wrong – I know Silver Linings is a film with a heavy theme of mental illness. But, throughout the whole film, it felt like every single character had some kind of mental issues, bouncing unbelievably back and forth between emotions, changing moods multiple times within a scene, and carrying out some very unnatural interactions. This causes the characters, as a collective group, to bring down the film despite the cast doing the best they can with what they are given.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence work quite well together and both give great performances in the film. It's a shame that that's about all the film has going for it.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence work quite well together and both give great performances in the film. It’s a shame that that’s about all the film has going for it.

To make matters worse, the dialogue is quite poor. Personally, I’d classify the dialogue into three categories – writing that is genuinely smart, writing that tries to act smart, and writing that almost seems schizophrenic (no pun intended) to the point where all the characters’ lines become a jumbled mess of words that are totally incompatible with each other. The majority of dialogue falls into the latter two categories, while the few scenes that fall into the first are pretty enjoyable.

Outside of the above, the rest of film is generally underwhelming. The central plot feels like nothing more than a clichéd romance drama with a heavy dose of insanity and some obsessive Eagles fanaticism thrown in. The cinematography is not bad, but not great. Even the soundtrack is virtually non-existent for most of the film, and when it does appear, is mainly just licensed songs layered in.

I really expected more out of Silver Linings Playbook. As a multiple award nominee and having received much critical acclaim, I was looking forward to seeing this drama/black comedy. Having seen it now, I can say that I don’t understand the reason for the praise. The film feels shaky and inconsistent in its execution with some poor dialogue and characterization. In the end, Silver Linings has so many flaws that the wonderful acting by the cast cannot save it.

Final Score: 4.6/10


Second Opinion:

Silver Linings Playbook was a big hit last year among critics and fans alike, but after finally seeing the film for myself, I cannot jump on the bandwagon. The movie’s main plot, focused around mental illness, seems so forced that almost every single character ends up acting like they have some sort of illness. The love story between Cooper and Lawrence gets lost in a flat story line, forced acting, terrible dialogue and just a lack of many qualities that make you connect with a film.  

The film lost my attention multiple times, which is a rare thing when I am the one who was genuinely interested in seeing the film. I was truly disappointed in the result. As mentioned in the main review, the cast does their best in trying to make the film the best it can be, but the great acting jobs of the cast could not redeem the clichéd, forced plot line of this film. As a romance, it lacked the emotional connection that many films can easily create to intrigue at least the female audience and as a drama, the story line was so two-dimensional that you become easily uninterested. I just could not get myself to enjoy this film one bit, which I really thought I would, given the widespread praise and award nominations. Better luck on the next film I choose. 
Second Opinion Score: 4/10

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2 thoughts on ““Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) Review and Second Opinion

  1. This is interesting, not only because these are the first two negative reviews I’ve read about this movie, but also given the context of how I first heard about SLP and eventually fell in love with it. When I first saw commercials for SLP on TV, I initially dismissed it as yet another cliched rom-com (which is what you guys seem to have categorized it as). Like you guys though, once the Oscar noms and rave reviews came out, I started to rethink my previous position and started to pay attention to it. The fact that David O. Russell (writer-director of ‘Three Kings’ and director of ‘The Fighter’) was in charge of this also got my attention.

    I personally agree with the crowd on this one. Contrary to your interpretations, I found this dramedy to have a lot of heart and genuine emotion in its characters and screenplay. I found that, rather than having a lot of contradictory events and random emotions, I interpreted all the emotional problems of the minor and major characters to be illustrative of how mental illness and emotional struggle is a continuum, not based in two extremes of of mentally healthy and unhealthy. The fact that everybody seemed to have some sort of emotional struggle (a character weakness, if you well), made the cast as a whole seem more relatable, in my opinion. I also found the dialogue to be very down to earth and very natural as well.

    As for Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar, I can’t comment officially on that, as I haven’t seen all of the Best Actress nominees from last year (I missed out on Naomi Watts in ‘the Impossible), but other than Lawrence, I’m not sure who I would’ve given the award to besides a worthy Jessica Chastain. Wallis’ performance was admirable, but quite frankly, I wonder if all the attention heaped upon her would was really just because of her incredibly young age. Furthermore, I didn’t really get too head-over-heals with her protagonist, as the character seemed to have little control over or understanding of what was going on in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’ Protagonists with no concepts of what’s at stake are weak storytelling devices.

    Either way you look at it, interesting review, and take a look at my review on ‘Express’ if you want a more in-depth explanation of why I liked SLP.

    • I can see why many would enjoy “Silver Linings”, but for me it just didn’t hit its mark. That’s the way movies go, though – I know many would disagree with my heavy appreciation of “The Fountain”, for example. As far as Wallis goes, I personally felt she was outstanding in her role. “Beasts” was my second favorite film (oddly enough behind “Moonrise Kingdom”) of last year, and I thought the level of ignorance her character had was the perfect storytelling device needed for the film and allowed her to have some even deeper insight than the other characters – in particular, when combined with some nice symbolism, led to some of the movie’s most powerful moments. Again, though, different opinions for different folks. That’s just one of the things that make movies such a great art form.

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