For A Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic

4 Mar

Argo was the  Academy’s best picture. Django Unchained was the cool best picture. Lincoln was the Oscar bait’s best picture. Silver Linings Playbook was the feel good picture. And for me its the film I most wanted to see after seeing snippets of it from throughout the award season.

Bradley Cooper’s Pat Solitano Jr. is fresh out of a mental health facility after losing it walking in on his wife with another man. Whilst inside he discovers he was an undiagnosed bipolar, explaining but not forgiving many actions from his past. Pat Jr. simply cannot come to terms with the fact that his wife has a restraining order on him (rightly so as Pat beat the living snot out of the guy she had an affair with) and so delusionally sets out to win her back by proving he has his disorder in check. Which obviously, he does not.


Pat Sr. played wonderfully by Robert De Niro and mother Jacki Weaver struggle physically and emotionally to calm and control Pat Jr. who is on the verge of being sent back to the mental health facility. De Niro shines not because of his usual strength and presence but showing so much love whilst still being totally helpless to aid his son. The most touching moments of the film come from the interaction of  Pat Jr. & Sr.

This film is labelled as a “Dramedy” which implies some kind of Adam Sandler type shtick with brief moments of real emotion. The opposite here is true, with the relationships between the characters being paramount and any funny business coming more from the awkwardness of the situation. There is no mistaking this film can be emotional. It deals not only with a man suffering from a disorder but his friends and family who somehow must protect Pat from himself and the rest of the world.

Their job is made infinitely more difficult when a  friends sister in law Tiffany, played to perfection by Jennifer Lawrence throws spanners in the works. Pat cannot get his head around her yet is drawn to her for her connection to his wife. Believing he can gain favour with Tiffany who in turn would pass a message to his wife, the two start a tumultuous relationship.


It is clear why Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for Best Actress. She is foul mouthed, opinionated and has literally no bullshit filter, something Pat identifies with. This is not a love story so much as two people trying to patch themselves up by gravitating towards a kindred broken soul.

The crux of the movie isn’t a budding romance but instead exploring how we all have problems. Some like Pat Jr. are silent and live under the surface until one day it is triggered and propels us over the edge. Others such Pat Sr. and his OCD and superstitions are obvious and visible but both just as debilitating. Tiffany is grieving the death of her husband and acting out in inappropriate ways, her brother in law Ronnie is basically whipped by his over bearing control freak wife Julia Stiles and even Chris Tucker’s Danny, a fellow patient of Pat’s who is endlessly escaping via legal loopholes like a stray cat returning to lighten to mood just when its needed.


As someone who suffers from similar inflictions this movie was a joy. It was awkward in places, cripplingly sad in others but by the end there was a big cheshire smile on my face. If you’re feeling down, this film is your silver lining.


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