I’ve never called Silver Linings Playbook a romantic comedy, although it is comedic and unmistakably romantic at the end, and it does, to its detractors’ discomfort, use a familiar and formulaic romcom-type ending (although David O. Russell shapes and renders it in a novel, engaging, live-wire way). It’s a much smarter and deeper thing than your typical Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigel film, for sure, and much more skillfully made. But you wouldn’t be wildly off if you called it a “romantic comedy.”
I would call Silver Linings a manic romantic dramedy about anxiety, obsession, family and sports-betting superstition. It obviously doesn’t walk or talk and go for the easy-lay emotion like the other romcoms, but it’s certainly an oddball cousin in the family.
Which is why I find it staggering that Vulture‘s Claude Brodesser posted a piece today called “Can the Romantic Comedy Be Saved?,” and he didn’t even mention Silver Linings Playbook.
My first thought after I caught SLP in Toronto was “finally, a romantic comedy that I can not only stand but I actually like…this is how they should be made!” Brodesser-Akner could have disagreed and written that SLP actually isn’t a romcom and explained why, or mentioned it as a genre outlier or whatnot. But he doesn’t even acknowledge its existence. To him SLP is so far outside the bounds of what a romantic comedy is that he doesn’t even mention that Russell’s film at least vaguely qualifies for the reasons I mentioned above. He doesn’t even bring it up for the purpose of dismissing it. Amazing! Because he’s dead fucking wrong.