Karel Psychiatric Facility, Baltimore.
“Excelsior” is written on the wall. Patrizio Solitano discreetly refuses his medication, doing physical exercise. Pat’s Mum, Dolores, signs Pat’s discharge papers. Eight months is long enough.
Pat wants to read unfaithful ex-wife, Nikki’s, entire English high school syllabus. He’s remaking himself. At home, he sees his portrait has fallen down. Pat’s Dad, Patrizio Solitano, asks who moved the juju-infused remotes.
Pat’s Dad hugs Pat. He’s gonna start a restaurant. Pat asks if he’ll fund it from his bookmaking, immediately breaking a recent confidence with his Mum. Pat’s getting in shape for Nikki and he’s gonna read her teaching syllabus. Pat says Excelsior. He’s gonna take negativity, make it fuel and find a silver lining.
At four in the morning, Pat throws an Ernest Hemingway book through a closed window. In his parents’ bedroom, Pat can’t believe Nikki’s teaching that book. Dolores wants an apology. Pat apologises — on behalf of Ernest Hemingway.
At enforced therapy, Pat’s wedding song My Cherie Amour by Stevie Wonder is playing. Pat destroys furniture. Dr Cliff Patel apologises. He had to know if the song was still a trigger for Pat. Pat came home from work to find that song playing.
He saw his wife naked in the shower with a history teacher. Pat beat him almost to death. Pat’s diagnosis is undiagnosed bipolar with mood swings and weird thinking brought on by severe stress.
Pat approaches Principal Nancy Metgers and asks if Nikki still works at the school. Metgers is legally bound not to tell him. She starts yelling. Pat says he’s better now, demonstrating his clear eyes. She remains hostile.
At Ronnie’s house for dinner, Pat presents the flowers he brought. Ronnie’s making good money in real estate, but feels suffocated. Veronica’s sister, Tiffany Maxwell, is coming. Tiffany’s touchy about her late husband. Ronnie makes introductions and Pat immediately asks how Tommy died. He sees Tiffany’s low-cut dress, black fingernails and black crucifix.
Tiffany learns Pat doesn’t take meds, although he has an extensive knowledge of different types. Tiffany stands, declaring she wants to go. Veronica’s disappointed. Tiffany wants Pat to walk her home. He says she has a problem. She says he scares people. Pat says he’s honest, calling her mean.
Tiffany says Pat can have sex with her. He’s married. Tiffany says so’s she. He says her husband’s dead. Tiffany starts crying and hugs Pat. She fights to maintain the hug, stops hugging, slaps him across the face and leaves.
That night, Pat bursts into his parents’ bedroom asking where his wedding video is. It’s 3am. Pat thinks his parents have hidden it because he can’t handle it. Pat gets louder and louder. He’s not bothered who wakes up. He hears his trigger song and accidentally elbows his mother in the face.
Pat and his Dad fight. Then, Pat repeatedly apologises at the top of his voice. Officer Keogh arrives telling Pat’s Dad people are scared. Ricky D’Angelo with his cell phone shows at the door, asking if it’s a bipolar episode. Pat’s Dad attacks Ricky. Pat angers further and stands. Keogh reminds Pat about Nikki’s restraining order against him.
In session, Cliff tells Pat he has to have a strategy. When Pat gets these feelings, he needs to get to a quieter place. He has no choice. They both say Excelsior. Nikki’s friends with Ronnie, Veronica and Tiffany. If Pat becomes friends with Tiffany, Nikki will approve.
Tiffany accepts Pat’s invitation to dinner. That night, Pat wishes Tiffany Happy Halloween and orders Raisin Bran. He thinks he’s doing pretty well at getting back with Nikki, more or less. Tiffany could get a letter to Nikki, but Tiffany’s family’s still suspicious.
Tiffany lost her job by sleeping with everybody in the office. People were fighting in the car park at work and in the bathroom. Then, she accused her boss of harassment. They fired her, sent her home and put her on medication. Pat mentions his trigger song. He needs a strategy.
He’s gonna go immediately and write the letter. Tiffany says he thinks she’s crazier than he is. He laughs. She takes back her offer to help, sweeps everything off the table and storms out. People in the diner cheer and whistle.
Pat catches up with Tiffany. She says Pat’s afraid to be alive. He’s a hypocrite, a conformist and a liar. She opened up to him and he judged her. She angrily creates a scene and bystanders intervene. Then, Pat’s trigger song plays.
Officer Keogh asks if Pat wants to go back to Baltimore. Tiffany then says Pat’s innocent and apologises. Tiffany leaves. Pat apologises. Tiffany promises to pass his letter on to Nikki. Pat thanks her.
Pat’s Dad wants Pat to watch the game. Family time. Pat says he means OCD, superstitious time. Pat’s Dad wants Pat to put on the jersey and stay. Dolores asks about the envelope. Pat animatedly says he’s beating the song. He’s on the scoreboard. He’s playing downfield.
Tiffany says she can’t give the letter to Nikki. She’d get nothing in return. She wants Pat to enter a dance contest with her. Otherwise, she won’t pass on his letter.
Danny tells Pat he’s out. Both men embrace. Pat’s Dad calls Danny “Jailhouse Lawyer” and tells him to sit down exactly the way he was before. Pat’s Dad invites Pat to sit with them instead of seeing Tiffany Maxwell. Ronnie adds that Tiffany’s a mess. Pat says Ronnie has a messed up marriage.
Ronnie then presents Pat with an iPod with capacity for seven thousand songs. West Side Story makes Ronnie peaceful. When Ronnie’s angry, he goes to the garage and plays Metallica and Megadeath. Ronnie gives a silent, energetic example of how he listens to it.
Pat’s brother, Jake, appears and tells Pat he looks amazing. He didn’t visit Pat in hospital because those places creep him out. He’s pleased the DeSean Jackson jersey fitted. Officer Keogh comes to return Danny to the hospital. Pat’s Dad says the Eagles are killing the Seahawks, 27–10. Keogh’s glad, but he must return Danny to Baltimore. Pat’s Dad carefully folds the lucky handkerchief.
Tiffany’s gonna teach Pat the waltz step. They study footage of famous dancers of the past. Danny arrives. He thinks Pat should come with more soul. Tiffany should move her hips more. Danny puts on an upbeat song and tells Tiffany to move her junk and pop her backside. On the way out, Danny and Pat say Excelsior.
Later, Pat can’t do anything until he reads Nikki’s reply. Tiffany says Nikki seemed intrigued, excited and a bit scared. Pat reads it. Tiffany says Nikki said to show her something positive. Pat and Tiffany’s dancing shows all kinds of skills on so many levels: focus, collaboration, discipline.
Pat goes to the game. Pat recognises and hugs Cliff with his face half-painted green. Soon, everyone starts brawling. The Eagles lose. Pat’s Dad blames Pat. Tiffany tells Pat they need to talk. Pat’s Dad says when Pat started spending time with Tiffany, it fell apart. Tiffany provides exhaustive statistics proving that the Philadelphia teams win whenever she’s with Pat.
If Pat had been with her that day, maybe the Eagles would’ve beaten the New York Giants. Jake concurs with her. Tiffany then says the official motto of the state of New York is Excelsior. Even Pat didn’t know. Tiffany wouldn’t advise sending the Eagles guy whose personal motto is “Excelsior” to a Giants game. Pat’s Dad’s impressed.
Tiffany says Randy should give Pat’s Dad a chance to win back everything: double or nothing against the Cowboys. Randy’s team. The game’s December 28th, last game of the season and same day as the Benjamin Franklin Pairs Open Freestyle Dance Competition.
If Randy wins the bet, Pat’s Dad’s permanently out of action. Pat’s Dad will take Randy’s action. Excelsior belongs in that house, not in the state of New York. Pat’s Dad will give Randy ten points. It’s an insane spread to Randy’s advantage. Plus whatever Tiffany and Pat’s score is at the dance competition.
For Pat’s Dad to win, the Birds have to beat the Cowboys, plus Pat and Tiffany have to score at least a five at the dance. Randy and Pat’s Dad shake on it. Pat doesn’t want to compete. Tiffany must lie and tell Pat Nikki’s gonna be there.
Pat and Tiffany watch the other dancers. Tiffany sees Nikki with Ronnie and Veronica. Veronica says Nikki might lift the restraining order after watching Pat dance. Tiffany heads to the bar. Philadelphia beat Dallas.
Tiffany and Pat dance and Nikki watches open-mouthed. They stop dancing and the audience applauds. They score a five. Pat has a socially-appropriate conversation with Nikki. Then, Pat catches up with Tiffany. He knows she wrote the reply letter. They kiss.
Pat’s Dad straightens Pat’s portrait. Randy discusses another parlay. Jake and Ronnie play cards. Danny’s cooking with Dolores. Pat’s wearing his DeSean jersey. Pat’s Dad’s restaurant’s finally going ahead.
Starring Bradley Cooper. Jennifer Lawrence. Robert De Niro. Rated 15. Dir David O Russell. Released in the UK 2012. Runtime 2hrs 2mins