I saw the movie Silver Linings Playbook last night, although I haven’t read the novel, which I understand is markedly different even in terms of the basic plot. First of all, I really enjoyed the film, having watched Bradley Cooper since he was a regular on Alias and having taken a shine to Jennifer Lawrence after her work in The Hunger Games. I’ve said before that I tend to be more inspired as a writer by film than by novels, so I will direct my attention there.
Have you ever sat in a theater full of people, and while watching the same film as everyone else, and yet knew you were watching a completely different film than everyone else? That’s how I felt last night with the inhabitants of Crossroads Stadium 8, who seemed to be more amused by the funny faces that characters were making than by the brilliant dialogue. Cheap laughs abound.
I had Silver Linings billed as a tragedy pretty early on, and it was interesting to watch each character slowly destroy their life and their relationships because of the afflictions they struggled against. It was depressing watching Pat’s father cling to superstition and things outside his control while those within his control slipped away due to neglect or simply bad decisions. Likewise, Pat’s incredible lack of the ability to see his life for what it really was haunted his every interaction.
In the real world, people with OCD and gambling problems like Pat’s father bleed out their bank accounts and ruin the lives of every one around them. They steal from their friends, their family, and their kids to feed their addiction and become enslaved to their meticulousness. They never win, they only occasionally lose less harshly. But hey, people don’t indulge themselves in fiction of any kind to feel bad.
Pat’s and Tiffany’s cases were at least more realistic. People with mental disorders, whether they’re influenced internally or externally, do often mature and come to grips with their lives, whether they’re aided through medicine, therapy, or simply the passage of time. And though the title and the entire premise on the movie suggest that their budding relationship was not a fix, but merely a silver lining, this concept was lost in the direction, which seemed overly eager to get to the credits.
The writer in me would have made Pat’s father a loser to keep with the tragic theme. Especially considering Pat’s frustration with books that don’t have happy endings. The truth is, life doesn’t have a happy ending. You die. It’s the worst possible ending you can have, and it’s inevitable for all of us. I would have understated the relationship between Pat and Tiffany at the end (which I think the novel does a better job of doing), painting it as less of a solution to their problems and more what the title is talking about.