Roughly six hours ago I went into David O. Russell‘s The Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein Co., 11.21) thinking “I love Russell but the trailer made it look a little schizzy and grating…here’s hoping but I don’t know.” I came out two hours later going “holy shit, this is one of the fastest, smartest and most satisfying love stories I’ve ever seen. Wow!…didn’t see it coming.” But what a kick when it happens.

Belle of the ball, surrounded by well-wishers, etc.: Jennifer Lawrence at Soho House after-party for The Silver Linings Playbook — Saturday, 9.8, 10:55 pm.

Serious romcom fans allegedly like stupid and sappy, so maybe the girly-girls who like Kate Hudson movies will hold back just a bit because Silver Linings Playbook is too smart and probing and raggedy-jaggedy, but I’ll be astonished if it doesn’t make at least $100 million.

Nobody knows who’s going to win anything at this stage, but you can count on the following for sure. One, it’s a lock for a Best Picture nomination (and is way more promising in this regard than Argo, Sasha Stone!), Russell is a likely nominee for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, Jennifer Lawrence is a cast-iron lock for Best Actress, Bradley Cooper delivers the richest and most naturalistic performance of his career and may be in line for a Best Actor nom, Robert DeNiro gives his most touchingly emotional performance since you-tell-me and is almost certain to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and….I’ve said this already, right?…the film is going to make money hand over fist.

Should I take two or three steps back and calm down? Maybe I should. Maybe I should take a Xanax. But I know what I saw and what I felt, and I felt the room, man.

And I’m telling you the energy pouring out of Roy Thomson Hall was ecstatic. Everyone knew they’d just seen some kind of romantic home run — something touching and original and kind of aggressively amazing. Santa Barbara Film Festival chief Roger Durling and I were walking toward the Soho House after-party and we couldn’t stop talking about what a surprise it was all around. I must have said “wow!” five or six times.

“Jennifer Lawrence, man…she’s so amazing! She’s like Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment or…who else, Cher in Moonstruck, right? Only better. She owns the second half of this film. I think she’s gonna win, right? Who’s gonna beat her?”

Silver Linings Playbook director-writer David O. Russell.

Set in a Philadelphia suburb and based on Matthew Quick’s novel, it’s about two manic nutcases who’ve taken huge emotional hits and ingested their share of meds (Cooper, Lawrence) who gradually fall for each other, and embark on a path fraught with mistrust and anger, but leading ultimately to healing and happiness. And it’s also about their families and football and gambling and dancing and all kinds of ins and outs.

It’s fast and snappy like His Girl Friday and a mad whirl, all right, but one that wraps it all up at the end with humor and wholeness and happiness and even a kiss. And it works. It’s a surprise that it all comes together as well as it does, but it does. Really.

Calling The Silver Linings Playbook a romantic mental-health dramedy doesn’t do it justice, but that’s at least part of the deal. It’s not a stretch to say that it delivers on the level of Moonstruck, When Harry Met Sally and The Apartment. I know, I know — I’m harming it by over-praising it, but it’s one of those very rare romantic films that hits the fastball hard and strong….thwack!…out of the park. But it doesn’t really start paying off until the second half, and really the last third. And the trailer barely hints at what’s in store.

I liked Silver Linings so much that I’m going back to see it again tomorrow morning at 8:45 am.

Silver Linings Playbook star Bradley Cooper, Harvey Weinstein at after-party.

(l. to r.) Santa Barbara Film Festival director Roger Durling, Weinstein Co.’s Dani Weinstein, L.A. Times film guy Glenn Whipp.

Russell chatting with L.A.Times columnist Steven Zeitchik.