American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Pat is curiously confident and upbeat for a man just released from a mental hospital and under a restraining order from his wife. That's because he's determined to repair the damage he's done to his life and surprise everyone by moving ever onward and upward. His motto is, "Excelsior!" What stage of bipolar disorder would you guess he's in?
At the top of his priority list is rebuilding his marriage with his wife; after they split, he beat up her new boyfriend, but what's past is past. Pat (Bradley Cooper) assures his parents, Pat Sr. and Dolores (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), that all will be well. They're not so sure. One of the charms of "Silver Linings Playbook," the screwy new comedy by David O. Russell, is how Dolores is a sane and caring woman and has had long experience in dealing with compulsive behavior, because her husband is a fanatic fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. Having been banned from the Eagles' stadium for fighting, Pat Sr. now focuses uneasily on his TV set, convinced that the Eagles will win only if his several superstitions are fulfilled.
Pat Jr. in desperation is drawn toward Tiffany (2010 Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow in the neighborhood. Lawrence appears here much transformed from the woman we saw in "Winter's Bone" and "The Hunger Games." Still only 22, she looks softer, sweeter and somehow prettier than before, yet she plays Tiffany as all edges and elbows, who can understand Pat because she's crazy herself. People call her a slut, and she agrees. She's pissed off about Pat because he continues to obsess about his ex-wife — and also because much of her value to him is that's she's still in contact with the other woman.
In supporting roles, we meet Danny (Chris Tucker), Pat's fellow patient at the hospital, and Dr. Cliff Patel (Anupam Kher), his shrink. Danny's worried that Pat's off his meds. Dr. Patel plays an increasingly common type in American movies, the Indian immigrant who seems to embody certain stereotypes and then is revealed to be completely assimilated.