If there is one thing David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook gets absolutely correct it is Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Speaking from the perspective of a native Delconian (albeit one who has since renounced the place on principle), I can absolutely assure you this is the very same small town – and obligatory mindset – I grew up with.
Robert De Niro’s character? That was my father. Jacki Weaver’s character? That was my mother. That grizzled dude in the DeSean Jackson jersey? I used to get blind drunk with that souse. The good-natured friend with a miserable wife? I knew that guy. In fact, I know that guy. I know his wife. I hate his wife. And you’d hate her too.
The point is Silver Linings nails the whole sordid Delco vibe, right down to the ailing notion every poor schlub’s lifelong fortune is somehow tied to a professional football team.
And yet, if there’s one place Silver Linings breaks its stride – and please forgive me for saying this – it would have to be Brad Cooper. I mean, don’t get me wrong … Cooper does an outstanding job of playing the less-than-average Joe from a South Philly suburb, which is – of course – exactly what he was for half his life. But he struggles to make you buy it in every scene during which he is forced to play bipolar … or manic … or desperate … or any one of a thousand other dark-end places People‘s Sexiest Man Alive has never known.
Other than that, Silver Linings is a really heartfelt story that audiences can both relate to and enjoy.
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. But it’s not better than Cats.
(The Silver Linings Playbook arrives in limited release this weekend with a national rollout to follow.)