Film: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (2012)

The Weinstein Company

David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” only seems like a fluid, edgy romantic comedy. At its core, the movie is a serious and even gut-wrenching exploration of what constitutes imprisonment.

The Zodiac’s Neptune-ruled 12th house is traditionally the domain of confined spaces, including prisons and mental institutions. It’s an arena whose inhabitants, behaving unconsciously, become invisible to others and, more disastrously, to themselves. These domiciles are where “Silver Linings”’s two lead characters, with their escapist agendas, have both literally or metaphorically taken up residence.

Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), who’s bipolar, has just been released from a psychiatric facility where he had been in treatment for savagely beating the man who was having an affair with his wife. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the young widow of a cop, is trying to curb her sex addiction, the only activity that could fill up her vast wasteland of despair following her husband’s untimely death. Not surprisingly, sparks of recognition fly the minute these two deeply injured and heartbroken souls set eyes on each other.

From that point on, the question is whether Pat and Tiffany will muster the courage to leave the jails – now comfort zones – of their own making. Pat refuses to take his medication and lives in a Neptunian fantasy land that he’ll be able to win back his wife. Tiffany, increasingly drawn to Pat, inches her way onto a limb as she persuades him to be her dance partner at a local competition (Neptune fittingly rules the expressive arts). She lives in a converted a garage on her parents’ property, which only reinforces the notion of the marginalized existence she has chosen for herself.

Also in the mix are the pair’s respective family and friends (Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles and John Ortiz) who amusingly cling to their own security blankets for dear life and are useless as personal-transformation role models. It’s up to Pat and Tiffany, through each other, to find enough self-compassion and trust (Neptune) to leave the past behind. The outcome? The movie’s title says it all.

Rating: ♆ (Neptune)

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