Silver Linings Playbook is directed by and has a screenplay by David O. Russell that was based on Matthew Quick’s novel of the same name. Patrizio ‘Pat’ Solitano Jr. (played by Bradley Cooper) is a former teacher who has spent the last eight months in a mental health facility for treatment of bi-polar disorder. His treatment is part of a plea bargain to keep him out of jail after he finds his wife in the shower with another teacher. Pat is understandably upset when he arrives home early to find his wedding song (My Cherie Amour) playing on the stereo and his wife in the shower with another teacher. Losing it, Pat attacks the man and after beating him mercilessly he is given two options; face trial and a certain jail sentence or accept a plea bargain whereby he goes into care for treatment of his condition.
In an early scene, we see Pat being tested when the wedding song is played in the doctor’s office at the instigation of Dr. Cliff Patel (played by Anupam Kher), who is also Pat’s friend. The result of the song being played is that Pat loses his temper and starts throwing things around. We learn that this happens whenever he hears the song, and that sometimes he is hearing it in his head even while it’s not actually playing.
After his release (arranged by his mother and against the advice of the authorities), Pat is placed in the care of Patrizio ‘Pat’ Solitano Sr. (played by Robert De Niro) and his mother Dolores (played by Jacki Weaver).
Whilst being driven home by his mother, Pat persuades her to give a lift to his friend and fellow intern, Danny McDaniels (played by Chris Tucker) who he thinks has been released. It turns out that he hasn’t and he has to be returned to the institute.
Pat’s father, Pat Sr. is an avid, almost obsessive, Philadelphia Eagles fan who believes that if his son is in the room when the games are played, the Eagles will win.
Pat is persuaded by his friend Ronnie (played by John Ortiz) to attend a dinner party being thrown by Veronica Maxwell (played by Julia Stiles), who is the best friend of Nikki (played by Brea Bee), Pat’s estranged wife. At first, Pat is reluctant to go because Veronica has never shown any liking for him, but finally decides to as he wants more than anything to get back with his wife, whom he is convinced will take him back if he loses weight and proves he can keep his temper.
He is dismayed to find that Tiffany Maxwell (played by Jennifer Lawrence), Veronica’s sister, is also attending. Upon enquiring about Tommy, Tiffany’s husband, Pat is informed that he had died, but not in what manner. Upon Tiffany’s arrival, Pat immediately makes her feel uncomfortable by asking how her husband died, why she has just got sacked from her job and by staring at her cleavage.
Tiffany does her best to ignore all three, but the dinner party is strained to the point that halfway through the entreé, Tiffany announces that she is tired and that she wants to go home. She then says to Pat ‘Are you going to walk me home or what?’.
To the upset of his friend, Pat decides to walk Tiffany back to her place.
At this point, Tiffany invites him back to her home, an annexe at the back of her parent’s place, where ‘you can fuck me if you turn the lights off’ (The reason for this was that Pat had worn a Philadelphia Eagles shirt to dinner and Tiffany hated football).
Pat’s reaction to her offer is to basically call her a slut. She then breaks down in tears and slaps his face. Running off home, Tiffany leaves Pat to wallow in his own thoughts.
Over the next few days, Pat would go running and Tiffany kept ‘ambushing him’ and running with him. It turns out that Pat’s mother Dolores has been feeding Tiffany with information as to where he would be running.
After Pat calls Tiffany a slut, Tiffany says ‘There’s always going to be a part of me that’s sloppy and dirty but I like that, with all the other parts of myself, can you say the same about yourself fucker?’.
Pat suggests they have dinner at a local dinner. Meeting in the evening of Halloween, Pat orders cereal and Tiffany orders a cup of tea, whereupon Tiffany confides in Pat that she could get a letter to his wife (something Pat couldn’t do himself, because of a restraining order against him). She also tells him the circumstances of how she lost her job, because she had slept with everyone in her office, women as well as men. Being visibly turned on by this, he questions her about the details. When she has finished he says that she is ‘obviously more damaged than him’ and that as soon as Nikki finds out, she will welcome him back and they could be perfect again.
Questioning him about his statement that she is more damaged, he tells her again that she is obviously still a slut. To this she responds with ‘Because I’m so much crazier than you, I’m just a crazy slut with a dead husband’ and laughs in his face. At which point she sweeps the crockery off the table and storms out, giving him an obscene gesture through the window. Pat runs after her and asks why she is acting like this and she screams at him. She then pushes him away and cries ‘I opened up to you and you judged me, you’re an asshole!’.
After they have both calmed down, Tiffany tells him that she will only deliver the letter if he does something for her: Tiffany had always wanted to enter a dance competition, but Tommy had never been interested. Pat ultimately agrees and promises to enter the dance with her.
When Pat arrives home, his brother Jake Solitano (played by Shea Whigham) takes a perverse pride in telling Pat just how good his life is compared to Pat.
When with Tiffany, Pat tries to get out of the dance, so to help him understand why it is so important to her, Tiffany opens up as to the circumstances of Tommy’s death. She tells him that she loved Tommy very much, but for one reason or another she had gone off sex. To try and kick start their love life, Tommy had visited a ‘Victoria’s Secret’ shop and bought some pretty underwear for Tiffany. On the way home, he had stopped to help out a guy with a flat tyre and had been struck by a car, killing him. Tiffany, upon finding the ‘Victoria’s Secret’ box, immediately realised that it had been her poor sex drive that had caused her husband to be on the road in the first place.
She was consumed with guilt and this is probably the reason that she embarked on her sexual exploits.
At this point, Pat Sr. admits to Pat Jr. that he has bet all his money on a football match. The birds lose the match, causing Pat Sr. to lose all his money, according to Pat Sr.’s superstition because Pat Jr. was not with the birds when they played, and that he should stop seeing Tiffany immediately because she would be the cause.
Tiffany, however, doesn’t take this lying down and storms round to the Solitano household and informs Pat Sr. that all the times that their team had won, she and Pat had been together, either running, having dinner or practicing the dance. She then persuades Pat Sr. to place a second bet where the Philadelphia Eagles would make the playoffs. To this he agrees, but Randy (played by Paul Herman) against whom the bet had been taken, insisted that the bet be tied into the dance contest and that Pat and Tiffany had to score an average of 5.0 for the bet to be valid.
The day of the dance comes and as they are getting ready for their turn, they realise that all the other contestants are professionals and that they stand no chance. It’s at this point that Nikki, Pat’s estranged wife, turns up. Tiffany realises that Veronica was trying to get them back together. Realising that she had been betrayed (for she had begun to fall in love with Pat), she runs to the bar and starts drinking Wodka with a seedy lawyer who obviously sees her as an easy mark. Pat manages to drag her away before she gets drunk and pulls her onto the dance floor.
As the music starts, they both forget everything and start to enjoy themselves. Their moves are enthusiastic, but obviously amateurish, even when Pat spins round with Tiffany hanging onto him with her feet locked behind his head. Unfortunately, their big move at the end goes badly wrong when Tiffany runs across the dance floor and throws herself into Pat’s arms, but ends up virtually sitting on him. She manages to slide back to the floor as gracefully as is possible and when the votes come in, the other dancers feel bad for them because their marks are so low.
When the final votes are counted, much to the bemusement of everyone else in the arena, they both scream with delight as they have earned an average of 5.0. As the Philadelphia Eagles also won, this meant that they had won their bet.
Unfortunately, Tiffany’s ecstasy is short lived, as Pat immediately goes to his wife Nikki and starts whispering in her ear. In tears she runs out into the night, but is soon caught up by Pat, who hands her a letter and tells her to read it. The letter is addressed to her and tells her that Pat had realised many weeks before that he no longer loved his wife and that he had fallen in love with her. The final scene is of the two families together and Pat and Tiffany cuddled up together.
This film went through many re-writes and castings and Bradley Cooper was the third choice for Pat and Jennifer Lawrence was about the eleventh person considered for the role of Tiffany. Initially, Russell considered Jennifer too young at 21 for the role as Bradley was 36, but he changed his mind during her audition as he realised that her eyes and expressions were ageless and timeless, a quality that has held her in good stead ever since. The film garnered many nominations, but it was Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar and Golden Globe wins that cemented her as one of the most exciting actresses in the world.
This film is a very palatable romantic comedy, as it is gritty, not at all sugary and totally realistic in that they don’t win the dance competition. The chemistry between Jennifer and Bradley is electric and amazing and it’s no wonder that they have been paired four times in movies.