About fifteen minutes into Silver Linings Playbook, its hero, Pat Solitano—played by Bradley Cooper—is out jogging near his Philadelphia neighborhood when a young woman he met at a dinner party the night before runs across his path and greets him. In any other romantic comedy this would be the follow-up scene that firmed up the “meet cute” encounter of the previous night. This second meeting would be staged with playful mock-casualness, and the dialog would include lots of sexy banter and teasing as the lovers-to-be sized each other up.

Instead, writer-director David O. Russell delivers a few seconds that wouldn’t be out of place in a psycho-stalker horror movie. Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, bursts into view emitting a high-pitched “Hey!” that unnerves Pat and made the viewers near me in the theater jump in their seats. And this turns out to be oddly appropriate since at their earlier encounter Pat and Tiffany recognized each other at once as being a tad crazy. Having taken offense at a remark her sister (the hostess) made, Tiffany had jumped to her feet and announced she was leaving, then glared at Pat: “Are you walking me home or what?” “You lack social skills,” he murmured. “I lack social skills? You say more inappropriate things than anyone I’ve ever met.” And the walk home concluded with her propositioning him...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.