On its face, “Silver Linings Playbook” is a straightforward romantic drama, one in which two equally dysfunctional souls (played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence) find unlikely stability in one another’s high-strung company. But part of what makes the film so blisteringly alive is its comedic undercurrent, which springs from the same eccentric view of human nature that writer-director David O. Russell (adapting Matthew Quick’s novel) displayed in “Flirting With Disaster” and “The Fighter.”
During their “meet cute,” Cooper and Lawrence’s characters bond by comparing med regimens, for instance. And later, Cooper’s dad (played by Robert De Niro) and Lawrence engage in a karmic debate on how the kids’ relationship has affected the Philadelphia Eagles’ won-lost record. With so many laughs working to amplify the film’s romantic and interpersonal tension, it’s no wonder this crowd-pleaser has managed to snag audience awards at the Toronto, Hamptons and Austin film fests, which bodes well for its Oscar chances.
In Philadelphia, audiences enthusiastically embraced “Playbook’s” depiction of their city. As Russell told the Chicago Tribune after the hometown preem, “I’ve never been to a screening where people cheered for the house.”