“And if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining”
Bradley Cooper plays Pat Salitano, a recently released mental institution patient who was put into the institution for bipolar disorder. He previously had issues with his condition but after witnessing his wife blatantly cheating on him with another man, he was sent over the edge and he severely beat the man his wife was cheating on him with, sending him to the institution and getting him a restraining order from his wife. While at the institution, Pat underwent a series of self improvement with his weight and personality in hopes of winning his wife back. As he was told in the institution, “You have to do everything you can. You have to work your hardest and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining” giving the movie its name.
Silver Linings Playbook, was directed by Oscar-winning David O. Russell, who also directed directed American Hustle and Joy. Silver Linings Playbook is a movie about how Pat comes to the realization that his personal “silver lining” is not what he made it out to be in his head: reuniting with his wife. Pat meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the role of her character exceptionally well in her ability to convey the emotions and personality of this character, rightfully winning her won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Tiffany is a widow who has just recently lost her husband and is clinically depressed. She used to engage in sexual acts frequently and to this day, people consider her an easy person to get with. She is trying to stray away from this stereotype and get involved with other activities such as being running and dancing. Pat and Tiffany grow closer as they both have struggles with mental illness and Tiffany agrees to give Pat’s wife a letter he wrote if he does this dance with her.
Also struggling with mental illness, Pat’s father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) has severe OCD about the Philadelphia Eagles and takes risky bets that have the potential to cost him his house and restaurant he is planning to invest in. Pat’s mother is the most normal person in the family (in that does not have a mental condition), loves her husband, and is used to his OCD, but becomes very upset when he takes such large bets. The movie becomes centered around a bet of the result of Cowboys-Eagles game, the Eagles must win, and Pat and Tiffany need to get a score of 5 in the dance competition. If they can do both, Pat’s dad can keep house and investment.
Throughout the movie, Pat fails to come to the realization that his wife has moved on, which she had done since she started cheating. Tiffany also seems to realize that she has moved on but by agreeing to give his wife the letter and therefore getting to spend time with him, she hopes that she can convince him that she is actually the person who he is meant to be with. Jennifer Lawrence really stepped up in this movie acting-wise from The Hunger Games. In The Hunger Games series, she conveys the emotions of Katniss who plays a character that comes across as strong and independent making her emotion so much more real when her character is sad and upset in scenes such as her sister getting compete in a fight to death battle, The Hunger Games, and the death of a young girl named Rue in the games. In Silver Linings Playbook she takes on a much more mature role where she plays a character that has to cope with many hardships including slut shaming and depression and makes the viewer feel such sympathy for her character, similar to the way she did when she played Katniss, but on a deeper level. Tiffany lost her husband and is trying to revive a connection that has been lost from her and does not let it show, but has pain every time Pat talks about his wife and winning her back. Jennifer’s acting is so realistic in the way she looks at people and the changes in her voice, it truly comes together and she embraces her character.
Overall this movie was outstanding. The acting, the comedy, and how relatable this movie actually is despite everybody having more extreme mental illness, everything. Everyone has social aspects about them that are flawed, nobody is perfect and this is what makes the movie so relatable. We also make mistakes, we all get our hopes up, we all may depressed at times or have some form of undiagnosed OCD that does not control our lives but certainly does affect it. We may make a joke out of mental illness at times and claim we have something when we actually don’t, but some people do suffer day in and day out from conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder.
Despite dealing with a more sophisticated topic, mental illness, this movie handles the topic appropriately and realistically in the scenes and maturely when needed. This movie does incorporate comedy into more serious topics which slightly takes the edge off. A notable scene includes a family dinner that Pat’s friend invited him to with him and his wife and his wife’s sister shows up, Tiffany. After getting the impression that there is something “off” about Pat, Tiffany says to him “What meds are you on?”
“Me? None. I used to be on Lithium and Seroquel and Abilify but I don’t take them anymore, no. They make me foggy and they also make me bloated.” “Yeah, I was on Xanax and Effexor but I agree, I wasn’t as sharp so I stopped.”
“You ever take Klonopin?”
“What day is it?”
Tiffany and Pat are having this discussion at the dinner table while Pat’s friend and is wife are just sitting there not being able to relate. This is one of Pat and Tiffany’s first conversations in the movie and their first real connection. You wouldn’t expect a relationship to stem from a commonality such as this one. This movie is also comedic in that it embodies the obsessed sports fan persona of the father which is quite common in our society. Pat’s dad has to have his remotes arranged in the exact same way every single game because he doesn’t want to get “bad juju.” He also believes that The Eagles lost because his son wasn’t with him and that Tiffany messed up the “juju” since he started hanging out with him. Tiffany convinces him that in order for the Eagles to win, Pat actually needs to be with Tiffany because they won every time that Tiffany and Pat did everything together the Eagles won. She’s used to dealing with mental illness/OCD so she “does her research” and proves what is actually causing the bad “juju.” Many sports fans also seem to have odd habits or rituals that they perform routinely hoping that they can somehow influence the result of the game.
Silver Linings Playbook can be looked at from a more artistic standpoint as well in that one of the more prominent metaphors used is Pat and Tiffany’s dancing which, in a way, embodies their relationship, mediocre and messy, yet it works out. Pat and Tiffany ended up succeeding at the competition with a mediocre score (shocking all the professionals around them when they were ecstatic when they received a 5!) and in that they found each other despite all the adversity they faced in their lives. Everyone’s relationships are flawed and getting over previous relationships can add to difficulty, but that is life. It takes time to get back up on your feet and restart whether that be after a death in the family or a divorce, but in the end it is all about coming to the realization that people in your life care for you despite if you find each other in a high or low time. There are people out there who will be your “silver lining” even if this “silver lining” may not be something you had anticipated or hoped for but again, that’s life.