It finally hit me what the argument against Silver Linings Playbook might be and why certain female critics and columnists (i.e., those who don’t necessarily see movies and roles and performances as creative expressions in and of themselves but elements that may or may not advance a certain forward-march, proactively feminist agenda) might have an issue with it.
If it manifests (and I’m saying “if”), their argument might be that Jennifer Lawrence‘s Tiffany character, an emotionally fragile nutter of sorts but mainly a spirited, tough-talking, no-b.s. woman who doesn’t take any shit, is basically a male fuck fantasy, and the story itself is too male-centric because Tiffany is basically used by director-writer David O. Russell to support and complete Bradley Cooper‘s Pat Solitano character by (a) shaking him out of his “I need to get back with my wife” obsession and (b) falling in love with him and gradually inspiring reciprocity.
In short, the Silver Linings milieu is too male, too blue-collar, too football-fanatic and not positive enough in terms of pushing strong, independent-minded, take-charge, stand-their-own-ground female characters. Tiffany, in short, is too emotionally vulnerable and isn’t Katniss Everdeen enough.
Just listen to Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, who’s something of a we-go-girls essayist when it comes assessing the worth of this or that film by way of positive or not-so-positive aspects of its female characters:
“Lawrence knocks it out of the park in the Silver Linings Playbook, and the one-two punch of that and The Hunger Games puts her at the top of the list,” Sasha writes. “She’s more Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets than Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball in Playbook. If she weren’t such a rising star she would be in the supporting category for her work here, as her function in the film is mainly to support Bradley Cooper’s character arc.
“What makes this an award-worthy performance is that Lawrence elevates it beyond what’s written on the page. She makes it deeper, richer, more compelling than it otherwise would be — it’s a male fantasy, yet Lawrence finds the truth in who the character is and that makes the difference.”
Got it? Stone is a Lawrence fan, but a cornerstone of her support is due to Lawrence having managed to overcome the inherent sexism and fuck-fantasy material installed in the script and pushed by the manner of the film. If a less-willful, more malleable actress had been cast, Silver Linings Playbook would have been even more of a vaguely sexist, woman-marginalizing, football juju comedy. So thank God for Lawrence having bolted through the door and knocked over the living-room furniture and re-ordered the sexist universe of David O. Russell!