An Oscar worthy RomCom in “Silver Linings Playbook”

The romantic comedy is a genre that, in recent years, has been discredited due to its predictable plot lines and clich?e writing. “Silver Linings Playbook,” written and directed by David O. Russell, takes the romantic comedy and rejuvenates it through brilliant acting and character development, making the film enjoyable to the public while still being complex and profound enough to be Oscar-worthy.        

The film, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, has received a total of eight nominations, and is the first film in 31 years to receive nods from all four acting categories including Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role and Actress in a Supporting Role. The film is also up for Best Picture, Directing, Film Editing and Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

“Silver Linings Playbook” is a story about Pat (Cooper), a man who has just been released from an eight-month stint at a mental institution. Prior to being institutionalized, Pat discovered that his wife Nikki had been cheating on him. Desperate to change and revive his marriage, Pat decides that his one and only mission is to do what he can to improve himself to save his life with Nikki. 

Along the way he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), the sister of one of Nikki’s coworkers, who is recently widowed and has mental issues of her own. Pat and Tiffany develop an odd and unique friendship that constantly blurs the line between platonic and romantic. Other notable relationships are those between Pat and his parents. His mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) has a hard time coming to grips with the reality of her son’s situation but does whatever she can to improve Pat’s life, always treating him with kindness and respect. More complex is the relationship between Pat and his father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), who shows numerous signs of having obsessive-compulsive disorder and is similar to his son in more ways than he would care to recognize. Russell does a phenomenal job of developing his characters and their intertwining relationships in a way that is fully captivating for any audience.

Despite the brilliant character development, the plot leaves something to be desired, leading some critics to wonder if the film is good enough to win in any of its nominated categories at the Academy Awards on February 24. At times, the plot feels predictable and seems to follow the general romantic comedy mold that has been maintained for years. Since the romantic comedy has generally been snubbed by the academy, many are curious as to whether or not this film will be able to break tradition and bring the romantic comedy back to the Oscars as a notable and legitimate genre in the film industry.

The acting in “Silver Linings Playbook,” specifically by Cooper, is what allows the audience to see beyond the predictable plot line and recognize the film as truly worthy of its eight nominations. Many fans of Cooper will be greatly impressed by his abilities, especially after films like “Wedding Crashers” and “The Hangover,” which do not serve to showcase Cooper’s talents in nearly the same way. The combination of the acting skills of Cooper, Lawrence, Weaver and De Niro, coupled with Russell’s brilliant directing, carry the legitimacy of the film. Is it good enough to win Best Picture? Probably not. Does it have a chance to win in any of the acting categories? Absolutely. Lawrence recently took home a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her portrayal of Tiffany and there is a strong chance some of her costars could take home awards of their own at the Oscars. The film certainly deserves some recognition, but we will have to wait until February 24 to see just how much the academy gives it.