Bradley Cooper’s Pat in writer-director David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” is a bipolar cuckolded former schoolteacher in suburban Philadelphia who has recently emerged from eight months in a mental institution. He was put there after beating up the beau of the wife he believes still loves him and wants to win back (despite her restraining order). Living with his uneasily protective parents (well played by Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro), the hyperjumpy Pat tries to pound himself into shape in order to rescue a marriage he is too delusional to see is over.
Fortunately, both for Pat and for the movie, Jennifer Lawrence’s tough-talking neighbor Tiffany, a recent widow with her own share of mental baggage, is on hand to salvage the situation. She dragoons Pat into rehearsing as her partner for an upcoming local dance competition. We can see what he can’t: Tiffany, and not his wife, is his true soul mate.
Russell directs the movie almost as if Pat were behind the camera; the visual rhythms are manic and short-fused. In every other way, this neo-“David and Lisa” sugarcoats the sufferings of these people in order to boost a sentimental wrap-up that’s right out of “Dancing With the Stars.” It’s slick stuff, but Lawrence, in her most high-low, sad-comic turn yet, is remarkable. Grade: B (Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity.)