Inspired by Chris Matthews' ecstatic recommendation and the NY Times' fawning review of "Silver Linings Playbook" as a film that "does almost everything right," I was surprised upon seeing it yesterday that it does almost everything shockingly wrong.
Don't mistake, the acting is fine, indeed at times it is downright awesome, especially that delivered by Bradley Cooper in the starring role of a mentally troubled--severely troubled--young man who desperately wants his old life back, which is to say, principally, his wife. As a courtesy to those who haven't seen the movie but plan to, I'll say nothing more about the eventful plot, other than to note that the words "horribly contrived" might leap at you in the theatre's dark.
And that's what first had me anticipating "The End" with intensifying anxiety. Afterward, though, what struck me with far more intensity is that the primal scream of "Silver Linings Playbook" is that finding true love can help to cure mental illness. And that is where the film in fact goes shockingly wrong; the brain scramblings of the main character are a physical ailment, biochemical in nature, and all the spiritually invigorating new loves possible in this world would never in reality help him.
To suggest otherwise is, I think, a disservice to the loving families and closest friends of the mentally physically diseased, to all of whom this film says, in essence: Love can conquer all, so just hang in there--and maybe try a bit harder.
That may be an artistically pleasing way to treat the issue of mental illness, but it will unfairly leave some feeling inadequate in the way they've treated it.