Where is the line between sanity and insanity? The answer, perhaps, is that it doesn’t exist. Through (sometimes alarmingly) real performances, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK tackles the issue of mental illness. It presents characters on every point of the mental-illness spectrum, from those with a diagnosis, to those who are rocking the boat towards crazy-town and only just managing to stay aboard. The film centres around Pat and Tiffany (above), who have the recent shared experience of a mental breakdown. Pat has bi-polar disorder and is released from a mental health unit after a violent confrontation with his wife’s lover. Tiffany is widowed and has lost the knack for healthy human interaction. Heavy material, perhaps, but the realism with which Bradley Cooper (THE HANGOVER) and Jennifer Lawrence (THE HUNGER GAMES), handle their characters keeps the film free from the emotional manipulations which frequent the majority of mental-illness themed films. Both actors perform with confidence and subtlety, displaying an attention to detail which reveals respect for sufferers of mental illness, and creating performances which anyone who has been around those who suffer from mental illness may find cuts slightly too close to home. Outside the realm of the diagnosed disorder, Pat’s parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) remind us just how much craziness we take for granted in our everyday lives, putting up with obsessive compulsions, gambling addictions, and dysfunctional relationships on a daily basis. Robert De Niro’s character, in particular, suggests that there is a very fine line between being ‘normal’ and ‘insane’, and that we all have the capacity to slide easily from one side to the other, and back again. And if we do go over the edge, Pat’s determination to find the Silver Lining in every situation is a (slightly comedic) inspiration. Equally inspiring, and hilarious, is the contemporary dance climax of the film, in which the two main characters demonstrate a determination to be happy; refusing to give in to humiliations, but taking pleasure from the ridiculous, from freedom, and from each other.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is, above all, refreshing. Heavy and light in equal measure, hilarious and real, ridiculous and heartfelt, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a must-see.