We all know someone like Bradley Cooper’s character — neurotic, explosive energy, gung-ho on getting back an ex, a mouth sans filter, and cursing at Hemingway at 4 in the morning — but hardly all at the same time like Pat. We are empathetic to him because he is likable, and if we are truly honest with ourselves — we have all harbored some of these traits at least once in our lives. All of us have some sort of Pat’s fixation on regaining the past, or Pat Sr.’s obsession with a sports team and gambling, or Tiffany’s relying on empty sexual encounters to mask her grieving. We relate to Pat’s best friend buckling under the pressure of providing an upper-middle class lifestyle for his wife, and we understand his wife’s attempt to maintain their status and a sense of normalcy by judging or frowning upon those who might be a threat to the seemingly perfect world she and her husband have created. A subtle virtue to the film are the characters’ choice of clothing. Bradley Cooper wears sweats, sometimes complemented by a trash bag, sometimes by an Eagles jersey — even to an upscale dinner or on a “non-date” with Jennifer Lawrence (who will take home an Oscar). She is damn sexy in black, suggesting her being in mourning as well as her erotic exploits. We know these characters because, whether we like it or not — they are us — and David O. Russell has the cleverness and the sensibility to write these unwelcome truths into one of the best scripts of the year.
In line with Pat’s bipolar disorder, all of those who are riding high with Argo’s recent mania better think twice before they come crashing down on Oscar night. Silver Linings Playbook has superior acting and writing, and is simply a better film. Many may think it is too light-hearted for the Academy, but this is not the cute and quirky Little Miss Sunshine, and it is slow-opening at the right time by the Weinstein Brothers, executive producers of SIX Best Picture winners, including the LAST TWO! Lincoln, Argo, and Zero Dark Thirty are all great, respected films based on important historic events — but one is boring, one is controversial, and one is getting pity votes. Silver Linings is upbeat, entertaining, touching, and irresistible, and just like Pat and Tiffany, will upstage them all.