Review by Luke Whitmire
The masterful David O. Russell directs another enthralling and compelling oddball drama that centers on a bipolar son and his dysfunctional family. In the hands of Russell, Hollywood’s brilliant humanist  filmmaker, Silver Linings Playbook is easily the best romantic comedy of the year. Like his 2010 The Fighter, Russell’s subject is a chaotic family, struggling with painful issues. 
Bradley Cooper portrays the prodigal son (Pat) who returns home from an asylum to make mends with his family, and encounters a quirky girl, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who also has a bipolar disorder. And Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) is an OCD gambling-nutcase who has been barred from the Philadelphia Eagles football grounds for attacking the opposing fans. 
Russell’s brilliance is how he can take real-life, threadbare scenarios and turn them into intelligent, entertaining and intriguing cinematic stories. When Pat meets Tiffany for the first time, who is recently widowed, Russell devises a scene that should be appalling, but with impeccable direction, he makes it crazy hilarious. He involves gags about her dead husband and how the two take rounds of antidepressants to deal with their disorder.
Once Pat and Tiffany become better friends, Pat believes he can use Tiffany to slip a note to his ex-wife Nikki (Brea Bee), who has a restraining order against Pat and does not want to see him, due to his bipolar behavior. But Tiffany agrees only if Pat will be her dance partner for a competition. This act of the story is truly funny, and we witness the genius of Russell as he structures a beautiful relationship story that is wonderful, screwball fun.

Robert DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook

As Pat continues to regress and let his disorder control his actions and emotions, he decides he must learn to look for the  Silver Linings in his life if he wants to stay functional in society and close to his family. But he realizes it’s more complicated than he ever imagined. 
And finally, Robert De Niro gives his finest performance since Goodfellas. When was the last time we saw a human De Niro on-screen with heart? We see great many levels to De Niro in this film. He actually cries and gets very emotional in one scene that could put him in the Oscar race.
Bottom Line:
Silver Linings Playbook is an edgy romantic dramedy that suits our anxious and crazy times. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro are outstanding, and poignancy permeates their connection and the entire film. In short, it’s a masterful film by a masterful director.
* * * * *
5 out of 5 stars