During my semester off, I’ve been reading a lot of good books and watching a lot of good movies. Silver Linings Playbook was among these. I saw the movie first, and then grabbed a copy of the book. I’ve decided that you have to view the movie and the book as separate entities – separate works of art, because they really are different. Usually it upsets me when movies diverge too far from the book, but Silver Linings Playbook is an exception. Both the book and the movie have poignant and important messages, so I can’t really say which one is better. They’re just different. (Of course, Matthew Quick gets originality points for penning the story in the first place.)
What I love about Silver Linings is the message of self-acceptance. Loving yourself for who you are and being the best version of yourself. It was also refreshing to see, especially in the movie, such a realistic depiction of mental illness and how it impacts people and relationships. The whole image of Pat’s dysfunctional family resonates with so many people, myself included.
I loved the book’s focus on Pat’s relationships with members of his family. From his overprotective mother to his estranged father, Quick illustrates how mental illness affects relationships, for better or for worse. As someone with mental illness in the family, this really stood out to me as I was reading. The book also centered on Pat’s growth and his process of coming to terms with his situation, hence the self-acceptance theme.
The movie, on the other hand, focused more on Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and their relationship. First of all, this movie is absolutely amazing. Go see it immediately if you haven’t. Besides being an all-around outstanding film (see: Oscar Nominations), Jennifer Lawrence kicks so much ass (see: Oscar win). In addition to J-Law being amazing and stunning and hilarious, the movie provides a pretty darn realistic portrayal of mental illness. Pat is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and his father appears to have undiagnosed OCD along with severe anger issues. Tiffany’s particular diagnosis is never revealed, but we know that she has been medicated and is having pretty serious issues.
What I love about the portrayal of these characters is that their humanity is not stripped away from them just because they have some issues. There is such a stigma attached to mental illness in this country, and it’s easy to write someone off as crazy instead of trying to actually understand what they’re going through. The film makes you watch through an empathetic lens, letting you inside the characters’ heads and hearts.
SO well done. From Tiffany’s “you think I’m crazier than you?” to Pat’s proclamation that maybe “crazy” people like Tiffany and Danny and him know something that other people don’t – the movie just nails it. One of my favorite scenes is where Tiffany owns up to her promiscuity and tells Pat that she likes the dirty and rough parts of herself as much as the rest of her. She knows that part of her will always be scarred, and she accepts it – asking him if he can say the same. All delivered raw and real by J-Law, of course.
I think the take-away message is really that we’re all a little bit fucked up. Diagnosed mental illness or not, we’ve all got imperfections. We’ve all got our own struggles that impact our lives and relationships with other people, and that doesn’t make us crazy. Not to discount the particular strain a mental illness can impose – it’s something that has to be experienced to fully understand. But certainly anyone can develop empathy for people who go through this shit, because yes, we’re all fucked up in our own ways. It’s important to see people for who they are rather than seeing them as their illness, and I think Silver Linings captures this sentiment perfectly.
So hey, you crazy people. Go do you. And read and watch Silver Linings Playbook if you haven’t already. Multiple times, if you’d like.