Acting in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ surprises, but ending feels flat

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’ Rated R, 122 min. The Weinstein Company, 2012.

The characters in “Silver Linings Playbook” rarely do or say what you expect, which makes them – and the actors playing them – so riveting to watch. On the other hand, the larger story goes exactly where you are expecting it to go, and are kind of hoping it wouldn’t.

David O. Russell directed the film and wrote the screenplay, based on Matthew Quick’s novel. What the movie does best is to take the audience into the unbalanced world of Pat (Bradley Cooper), a man dealing with bipolar disorder and rage issues as he entertains delusions about winning back his wife, who has left him. Meanwhile, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) is a neighbor who copes with the death of her husband in unconventional ways. The two share an undeniable spark, which ignites in good ways and bad.

As Pat’s football-obsessed father, Robert De Niro sinks his teeth into his most interesting role in years. Cooper and Lawrence do exciting work as an unusual pair bereft of social graces. They offer some nice touches of comedy, too. But even as the characters reveal more complexity, the movie becomes more predictable, morphing somehow into a conventional romantic drama.

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