I finally watched the movie Silver Linings Playbook this past weekend. If you haven’t seen it, please stop reading as there will be spoilers. Not that there’s any great mystery going on but still.
Much as I enjoy Jennifer Lawrence, I had avoided this film in theaters because the trailer and commercials sold it as a comedy. Oscar nominations or not, it looked fluffy with a great deal of potential to make light of those with mental illness, if not completely make fun of them. I didn’t want to think that such a film would be up for so many awards but this is Hollywood.
A couple of minor issues right off the bat. First, I don’t buy Bradley Cooper as Italian. Just…no. Second, Pat meets Tiffany and she instantly sees right through him. I understand blunt honesty and I have no problem with that, but five minutes after she meets him, she’s telling him about himself? Did her sister tell her more about him than we see? I also understand that it’s a two hour movie and we sort of have to jump right into that. It just seems to happen a little fast.
So on to the stuff I did like. I feel like the mental illness in this movie is graded on a continuum. Pardon the expression, but everyone is a little bit crazy. There’s Tiffany’s sister who is a little too obsessed with her gadgets and making sure everything appears perfect even as her husband is miserable. There’s Pat Sr. who has to have his remotes pointed just so for the football game. How these things are usually viewed depends on context, perception, and degree. Pat’s mother seems to barely notice her husband’s quirks because that’s just how he is and he isn’t hurting anyone. Pat Jr., however, sees the OCD for what it is.
Pat’s outbursts over seemingly random and minor things felt authentic and were disturbing to watch. I also found it rather telling when he told his therapist that “I don’t explode. That’s my dad. He’s the one who explodes.” I have a feeling that entire chapters of the book are contained in that one sentence.
Finally, the bipolar dance routine? Awesome. I loved it. Even if the rest of the ending was a bit predictable and sappy. I love that they didn’t nail the Big Move. I love how much fun they had with the whole thing and that Tiffany wanted to enter just to have fun.
In some ways, this film reminded me of Secretary. I’ve seen a lot of people take issue with Secretary because it once again makes kinky people appear broken in some way. But what I’ve always liked about it is that neither of them are trying to fix the other. Rather, they find healthier outlets for their desires. They find that other person who understands and makes it okay to not be “normal.” And Silver Linings Playbook did the same thing.