Silver Linings Playbook Analysis

Topics: Mental disorder, Body dysmorphic disorder, Mental illness Pages: 5 (2051 words) Published: December 11, 2013
Sarah Carpenter
Professor Herzog
Final Paper
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook
The narrative of Silver Linings Playbook is formed in the heart of Philadelphia around a middle class family at it’s breaking point. Pat’s, the protagonist, family has very much shaped his current situation; he has clinical bipolar disorder and struggles with stress-induced manic outbursts. After Pat’s release from a mandated rehabilitation center, he handles the next recuperating stage of his life in a similar way as a quarterback looking to make the next big play on the field; watching for possible blitzes and passes, anything to get the ball into the end zone, or in Pat’s case, to get in position for his life to get back on track, and preferably with his estranged wife, Nikki. The football metaphor does not stop there and is continually enforced by Pat Sr., Pat’s OCD and stress-induced manic outburst ridden father.

Silver Linings Playbook was first a book written by Matthew Quick, then re-adapted by David Russell, the director and screenwriter. David Russell has a son who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum and bipolar disorder and he wanted to make something that his son could relate to. The characters were brought to life by Bradley Cooper as Pat Jr., Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany, and Robert De Niro as Pat Sr., among others. The film, like life itself, juggles multiple dimensions simultaneously. It is a dark comedy with some occasional romance and addresses stigmatized human elements like dysfunctional families and mental illness. Elements of Silver Linings Playbook relate to other films; the screwball comedy storyline is reminiscent of classic movies starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn and the effect of mental illnesses is also depicted in Side Effects, released in 2012. However, no film singularly covers all of the crucial aspects of Silver Linings Playbook, which in part, makes it such a refreshing film in what seems to be a half a decade of sequels and CGI heavy movies.

With eight Academy Awards nominations, including one win for Jennifer Lawrence, and a glowing review of 4.5/5 stars from Roger Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his work in criticism, Silver Linings Playbook is a compelling story of a man’s journey to rebuild his life after an incident in which his previous world collapsed around him. Unusual in Academy Award nominees, and winners, Silver Linings Playbook also features a love story gone wrong between two people who begin to find themselves again despite their bleak struggle with their respective mental illnesses. The element that makes Silver Linings Playbook the most interesting is that it mirrors reality so closely that it could be a family incident one is watching play out during the holidays. The film is about the very taboo subject of mental illnesses, specifically in a family dynamic, without actually being about mental illnesses. To condense it into a few lines, Silver Linings Playbook is about the persistence of hope, the nature of families, and the habit of people to get in the way of their own happiness. Silver Linings Playbook is often simplified as a “romantic comedy”, and it could be seen as that if one chose not to look beneath the surface or examine their own reactions after viewing the film. However, it offers so much more than the clichéd scenario of two people falling in love and the relationship not working out because one of them is afraid of their feelings while the other is viewed as having too many feelings. In this clichéd scenario, the partners get over themselves in order for their relationship to eventually work out. The clincher of Silver Linings Playbook is that it offers well developed characters who are flawed in atypical ways: Pat nearly killed a man and is determined to rekindle the flame with his separated wife, and Tiffany, the heroine who uses sex as an emotional outlet and is manipulative to get what she wants. On paper, these two characters seem...
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