“Silver Linings Playbook” Brings Refreshing Change to “Rom-Coms”

Silver Linings Playbook Delivers with Charm, Humor, and Emotion.

“Silver Linings Playbook” Delivers with Charm, Humor, and Emotion.

Hannah McLaughlin

"Silver Linings Playbook" Delivers with Charm, Humor, and Emotion.
“Silver Linings Playbook” Delivers with Charm, Humor, and Emotion.

“YOLO”— a mantra that has recently been embraced by a multitude of free-spirited young adults from all corners of the earth with only one goal in mind: live every day as if it were their last. Since the release of rapper Drake’s hit “The Motto,” millions of teenagers throughout the twittersphere and across the realms of tumblr have adopted “YOLO” as a lifestyle, disregarding danger and potential repercussions for the sole purpose of emphasizing youth and living life to its fullest. Unfortunately, this sudden infatuation with the carpe diem-esque quote has lead to the gradual deterioration of its inspirational meaning, as one often overhears it being used completely out of context (i.e. “I’m not going do my homework at all anymore. YOLO,” or “Looks like I just got fired from my job. YOLO,” or even  “Woops, just dropped my pencil… YOLO, right?”). However, on November 21, 2012, moviegoers nationwide were offered a chance to experience a film deeply rooted in positivity and the ever-tumultuous pursuit of happiness. In “Silver Linings Playbook,” director David Russell recaptures the spirit of “YOLO,” rejuvenating the motto with bouts of humor, love, and pure, heartfelt emotion.


For Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), a man recently released from a mental institution after an incident involving his unfaithful ex-wife, every new day is a gift. Exuding positivity with a new perspective on life and its limitless opportunities, Pat believes deeply in the power of good fortune and good karma. Vowing to live by the Latin phrase “excelsior,” his own personal “YOLO” meaning “ever upwards,” Pat is convinced that his determination to achieve his goals of becoming a better person will surely convince his wife Nikki to lift her restraining order and fall madly in love with him, just as she had when they were younger. This naïve hope that Pat so fervently grasps onto turns a blind eye to his wife’s cheating scandal as well as the episode that transpired after Pat caught her with another man. Upon discovering the affair, Pat’s anger surfaces, his bipolar disease takes a firm hold of him, and he lashes out in a manner more violent than ever before. The outburst lands him in a mental institution for several months, with a restraining order filed against him, and with medications that he despises and refuses to take. Additionally, his pride is stripped even further when he learns that despite his release from the humiliatingly patronizing mental hospital, his actions must be carefully monitored by a local police officer in his hometown of Philadelphia. Navigating his new life of optimism in a town buzzing with gossip about Pat’s unfortunate past proves to be quite the challenge for the hopeless romantic; however, with some help from his friend’s troubled sister-in-law Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), Pat may have finally found the silver lining he had been looking for all along.


Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence make a spectacular duo in this unconventional yet genius romantic comedy. Their characters are both hysterical and real, dishing out sidesplitting one-liners one moment and delivering tear-jerking speeches bursting with emotion the next. Their onscreen chemistry is infectious, and their ability to transform from a couple with a relationship characterized by sibling-like bickering and competitiveness to that of one full of genuine care and appreciation for one another’s flaws. Lawrence’s maturity is expressed thoroughly in the film, as it is a welcome and refreshing change from her infamous role as the stoic sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games.” Opposite Cooper, Lawrence shines as Tiffany, a troubled widow with a lonely past market by a previously promiscuous and edgy lifestyle. After the sudden death of her late husband, Tiffany is an emotional wreck who finds an escape from the burdens of reality through dance. “Silver Linings Playbook” is a romantic comedy unlike all its predecessors, as it far transcends any previous attempt at a funny love story between two unlikely characters. It is the story of a perfectly imperfect relationship that omits the usual aspects of a predictably cheesy chick-flick and dives strait into the realities of life. It touches upon subjects commonly deemed “off limits,” such as mental illness, gambling, growing old, and being heavily weighed down by one’s own flaws. It is real, it is powerful, and it is truly inspirational. Viewers feel sympathy for Pat and his aging father (Robert De Niro), as the two struggle to make up for lost time before their relationship is shaken by either life’s unpredictability or the inevitable: death.


Pat’s overly zealous attempts to change for the better so that he can win Nikki’s heart lead him to make an interesting deal with Tiffany. In order to communicate with his ex in secret, Pat must agree to compete in a national dance competition as Tiffany’s partner. Over the course of the next few weeks, these two lost souls form an inseparable bond, as they find common ground in their failed relationships and their mutual experiences of being judged by their community for being “crazy.” “Silver Linings Playbook” is a cinematic phenomenon in which the viewers can finally identify with the characters, whether it be as a result of watching Pat’s shame stem from his bipolar disorder, Tiffany’s hatred of the person she had once been, or Pat Sr.’s obsessive compulsive disorder and wholehearted belief in superstition helping his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, win a game. Director David Russell takes viewers where they have never gone before: into a real family with real issues trying desperately to surmount real troubles and insecurities.


“Silver Linings Playbook” convinces critics nationwide that all hope for future rom-coms is not lost; rather, quality productions such as this movie are simply catalysts for future cinematic masterpieces. Perhaps this film offers a silver lining for the film industry as a whole, for future movies may have the power to entangle their viewers in plots comprised of both comedy and raw emotion. Perhaps actors and actresses can capture the essence of an era—like the age of “YOLO”— without including the trite teenage undertones and tacky overused taglines that so terribly mar the inspiration behind the mottos. Perhaps unassuming fictional heroes like Pat Solitano can convince the world—one audience at a time— to never perceive life’s figurative glass to be half-empty, and to walk away from life’s many stresses and troubles not dwelling on previous mistakes, but instead looking to excelsior: ever upwards.