It’s the mark of the New New Hollywood that a film can feel at once plodding and rushed. The Silver Linings Playbook is one such curious failure, where the screenwriter seems to suffer from an abundance of trade-skill and an aching, anemic shortfall of things to say.
Adapting a novel is here given the cinematic equivalent of: the Sparknotes treatment, and the result is as riveting as that brand suggests.
Good performances and inoffensive direction cannot save a movie from such a screenplay, which finds intriguing characters shouting at one another and overcoming their odd-ball differences over quirky dinner-fare in perfunctory scene after perfunctory scene. However well these scenes play to satisfying prods, nods, quips and quibbles, they play to them mechanically. Jennifer Lawrence: radiant. Bradley Cooper: better than he’s ever been.
There’s more to say, but I don’t know what. It’s not a pastiche, but it has been done before. Whatever the dubious merits of the phrase “feel-good film,” people who think they’ll love this film probably will. In advertising, the axiom is that nothing kills a bad product quicker than good marketing. Here, that could not seem less true. The advertising (over years and years) seems to have created a product that loads of people love to “feel good” about.
A snoozefest of the Oscar variety, Silver Linings is enough to chase one away from the Cineplex and back to Netflix.