Silver Linings Playbook

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"Watch for the signs"

Hello all, welcome back to The Tagline! Over the weekend I found out that my nearby theater was screening Silver Linings Playbook, which previously I'd have had to see at the art cinema (for more money than I wanted to spend). I was thrilled and so immediately set off to the movies! Silver Linings Playbook (based on a novel of the same name) stars Bradley Cooper as Bipolar Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper doing something that isn't making a Hangover movie, which is nice) who at the beginning of the movie is in a mental institution. His mother, at the protest of the doctors, arranges for Pat to leave the institution early, coming back home to live with her and Pat's also pretty crazy dad Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), to try and get his life back together. We find out that Pat was in the joint because he walked in on his wife Nikki and a teacher from her school (an old dude at that) naked together in the shower, with Pat and Nikki's wedding song playing on a stereo. Pat reacted... badly, and beat the guy within an inch of his life, and had a wildly psychotic break. One can hardly blame him, given the circumstances, but it becomes readily apparent very quickly that Pat is not okay. His rambling speech, and outlandish delusions are clearly those of a bipolar if you've ever known a person with that range of disorders, and I thought it was good that they portray mental illness in a way that is not exaggerated or insulting. Pat's actions are meant to be amusing at times, but his illness is not.

Dancing is dumb. Wearing a garbage bag is cool.
So Pat is having... trouble acclimating to his new place in life. He is convinced that by fulfilling a set of goals he's set for himself, which are manic in their disposition, that he can win his wife back, who he fervently and frequently insists is still "deeply in love" with him. They're still married after all! As a member of the audience I became quickly dubious about this assertion. Anyway, Pat goes to a dinner party at the home of his friend, who is under the firm and merciless domination of his wife (played by the repulsive Julia Stiles, which worked fine for me). At this dinner party he becomes reacquainted with Tiffany (portrayed by the lovely Jennifer Lawrence), who is the sister of awfuljuliastiles. She and Pat immediately connect over their emotional issues and medications, and then immediately get into a messy argument that ends the dinner. We learn quickly that Tiffany is not okay, indeed she is a recovering sex addict, who went off the deep end and banged everyone in her office after her cop husband died. As a result, Tiffany has a pretty combative attitude, and her burgeoning friendship with Pat is... contentious at best. See he wants to use Tiffany to get a message to Nikki (Tiffany's sister is friends with Nikki you see). Tiffany agrees (despite the restraining order on Pat) to do so, if Pat will be her partner in a dance competition she wants to participate in. After some cajoling, Pat agrees.

Jennifer Lawrence explodes at Julia Stiles. Who can blame her?
The story manages to be endearing and compelling, romantic without being cheesy about it, which is challenging under the best circumstances, especially when you can tell from the start that these two are literally meant for each other (as in that's what the story wants). Over the course of the movie we get to know Pat better, and see beyond just his illness, and also get to know his family. His father in particular clearly has some managed form of the same condition, being highly superstitious and obsessive in regards to "good juju" while watching football. He and Pat are frequently at odds over this (Pat Sr. bets big dough on football games you see, so it's pretty serious stuff). As the movie progresses we also see Pat becoming a more functional person, which is good because he is a damned mess at the beginning of the movie. All in all the film leaves you feeling pretty good about everything, which is for me at least a pleasant ending to a movie where at the beginning everything is screwed to hell. Sure you could think "oh well HOW CONVENIENT" and sure that's true, but so what it's a movie, sometimes fiction's allowed to have an ending where everything just sort of works out.

Chris Tucker guest stars as a recovering drug addict.
I should mention Chris Tucker's guest performance, he plays a secondary character who keeps popping back up (despite the fact that legally he should be not free for most of the movie. He is basically a recovering drug addict who displays an obsessive fixation on his hair. He is amusing and a little bit frightening also. Speaking of which, I sort of hinted above but this movie manages to pretty deftly balance humor and drama, something that good movies do, and bad movies fail to do in what is often a gruesome fashion. Fortunately I was not treated to some awful Ben Stiller-esque cringefest. I was scared going in that could be the case.

It goes without saying that this movie is doing well. It's already more than tripled its 21 million dollar budget, and it is still in theaters. As I mentioned, it was previously only playing nearby at the art cinema (which I am fortunate to live near) but now it looks like critical acclaim and popular success have scored this film a wider release. If you get the chance, you should try and see it, I think you'll enjoy it!

That's all for today folks, I'll see you on Thursday, maybe asking questions about the Lorax. Excelsior!

1 comment:

  1. This movie was amazing and fantastic and I loved it.

    Pat's dad definitely has OCD coupled with a gambling addiction. Pfffft I could relate really well to his obsessive-compulsive symptoms, even though he was considerably lacking in insight about himself; I felt that was evidence that the movie was doing it right.

    In the beginning of the movie, I had trouble accepting Pat. He was kind of scary. By the end, though, I admired him. Same goes for Tiffany and all the other characters, really. Even the people without some sort of specific diagnosis had serious problems (marital troubles, stress, there was no one in the movie who didn't have issues), and I felt that it put mental illness on par with every single other completely human challenge. It neither romanticized nor demonized any of the characters. They were all allowed to be fully multi-layered and complex.

    Basically, I agree.


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