Silver Linings Playbook: The drama that won Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar hits Amazon

Silver Linings Playbook (13+, 122mins) Directed by David O Russell ****

Silver Linings Playbook? More like Oscar-baiting playbook.

This entertaining and engaging 2012 comedy-drama hit all the right Academy-friendly notes – physical/mental illness, familial conflict, starry cast and witty dialogue – that previously helped everything from Ordinary People and Rain Man to American Beauty and Terms of Endearment to awards glory.

Cynicism aside – and Jennifer Lawrence definitely deserved to take home the statuette for Best Actress for her performance here – Silver Linings is a terrific, if slightly less punchy, follow-up to writer-director David O. Russell’s The Fighter.

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Desperate to have her boy back, Dolores Solitano (Animal Kingdom’s Jacki Weaver) springs Pat Junior (Bradley Cooper) from a psychiatric facility after just eight months.

Although in better physical shape than when he went in and despite claiming to be “better”, this “undiagnosed bipolar” is off his meds – which worries his football-obsessed father (Robert De Niro) – and still babbling about wanting to get back with his estranged wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), who helped put him there in the first place.

Jennifer Lawrence deservedly won an Oscar for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.

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Jennifer Lawrence deservedly won an Oscar for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.

Still, Pat Sr is pleased to have him home, even if it is just as a good-luck charm for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles, whose fortunes he has managed to entangle with his own since “retiring” from his day job.

However, after just a few sleepless nights caused by Pat’s obsessive nature and emotional instability, both parents are convinced they may have made a mistake. If only they could help him find some way of moving on with his life – without Nikki.

Loosely based on Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel of the same name, Silver Linings Playbook plays more like a contemporary version of Love and Other Drugs, a more grounded version of Benny and Joon, or Sleepless in Seattle: The Bipolar Edition, than the portrait of a man trying to remake himself – as two troubled souls stumble their way towards some kind of happiness.

But really, this movie is about the actors and the juicy script Russell has delivered. Cooper (Limitless) manages to be charismatic, despite his character’s inability to “filter himself” while talking, while De Niro delivers one of his best performances in years.

Jennifer Lawrence starred opposite Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.

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Jennifer Lawrence starred opposite Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.

However, the real star is Jennifer Lawrence. Best known at this point in her career for playing backwoods characters in Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games, here she proved she can do cynical and urbane, as a troubled young widow drawn to Cooper’s breathless optimism.

Filled with memorable moments (a disastrous first date, a football trip gone awry), Silver Linings builds to a tense, toe-tapping, crowd-pleasing finale.

It may be following a well-worn playbook, but the silver lining is it provides two hours of solid gold entertainment.

Silver Linings Playbook is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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