In the category of “the elements that affect us all,” I thought I would take a moment to talk about what has been my favorite movie in the last year: Silver Linings Playbook.
I decided to see this movie for the 3rd time the day after my birthday (June 3rd ironically) during a mini vacation I am calling birthday relaxation week. I saw it the first time back Thanksgiving weekend and it was one of the few movies where I actually did not mind if the movie went longer than it did. I really encourage anyone who has not seen it yet to see it. Some people (especially guys) will be reluctant to see it due to thinking it is a rom-com, however to call it that would not give the film its just due. It has elements of that but goes much deeper.
Seeing the film for the 3rd time allowed me to see parts of the movie and think about the meaning behind it.
Bradley Cooper plays one of the main characters Pat. He has lost everything in his life including his wife due to being diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder after losing it when he found out she was cheating in the act. However as Pat leaves the mental hospital where he was receiving care, he finds out that while others judge him and give him the stigma of being crazy, he really is very self-aware of himself and realizes others including his father (Robert De Niro’s character) may have their own issues which you could argue are much worse than him (Robert De Niro’s character while not specifically stated possibly suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and an addiction to gambling).
Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany is going through her own issues suffering from depression after her husband suddenly passes away. She is treated as a black sheep of the family from her sister (played by Julia Stiles) but once her and Pat meet at a dinner her sister planned, there was an immediate connection.
She felt it, knows he felt it, however he denies it because he so badly wants to repair things that went on in the past and reunite with his wife who has a restraining order on him. Tiffany continues to follow Pat as she pops up unexpectedly while he is running through the neighborhood, gets him to ask her out (which Pat says strictly was not a date), and even takes advantage of Pat’s weakness of trying to get back with his wife by assisting him in the process. Here is a clip of the running scene which was one of the funniest scenes and one of the biggest themes of the movie:
While some may say Tiffany was manipulative of the situation Pat had, however I argue that she does it to teach him to not let the demons of the past continue to haunt him and allow himself to breath and move on. She figures that out in the diner scene.
There is also a sports element in the film. Robert De Niro as Pat’s father plays a great supporting actor in this role and I think in any year he was not up against Django Unchained’s Christoph Waltz he would have won the award. He plays an obsessed Philadelphia Eagles fan that will even resort to superstitions thinking that his beloved Eagles will win on Sunday. Most sports fans can understand this. Chris Tucker also plays a great role as Danny, Pat’s friend he met while he was going through therapy. He can even see how important Tiffany feels about Pat before he can.
Now while I won’t give away the ending if you have not seen it, some people felt that it did a typical Hollywood ending. I actually liked the ending. It presented a subject that needs more attention in our country in mental illness, brought it to life, and developed characters that you could laugh, empathize, and feel the things they are feeling. The ending wraps this all together.
It is one of the few films that actually takes time to develop the characters into people who can possibly be ones we meet in real life.
Jennifer Lawrence deserved winning an Academy Award for this. She takes on the role of Tiffany and you immediately forget that she is only 22 (21 when filming). This is a very mature subject matter and at times I forget she is an actress and that you are watching in a film. Seeing the film again allowed me to feel what Tiffany was feeling. You felt her pain when she was being judged by everyone, her sudden surprise when Pat asked her to the diner, her happiness that she had someone to be her partner at the dance competition, and her anger and later sadness when her feelings she developed for Pat were not being reciprocated. We are seeing one of the best actresses of our time.
In closing, I am glad I was able to watch Silver Linings Playbook again. It even had much more reflection for me after recently celebrating a birthday. I was overjoyed at how many people sent me wishes and especially with the words two of my family members said. I am really at a great part of my life personally right now where I love everything about it. Are there things I would like to change like Pat and Tiffany? Sure. Then I think about this quote that resonates with me which Tiffany said to Pat after he said something very insensitive to her:
There is always going to be a part of me that is sloppy and dirty but I like that. With all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself f%$*er? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?
I have realized in this life that people will come and go with it. Some you will see in passing, some you will know for awhile and lose contact with, and the others you will get to know for a long time and possibly even a lifetime. Still there is a reason why they all make an appearance in your life.
I feel like celebrating on Sunday I witnessed and experienced all of that. And I think I did because I always have a level of respect for everyone that I meet. You never know what people went through in their past before meeting you.
However, if you give someone a level of respect and welcome them with open arms without judging them based on their first impression I think people appreciate that. It is how I go through my life and I think this is why this movie identified with me so much.
I won’t give you Pat’s quote at the end of the movie, however it is powerful words to live by everyday.
We all can get caught up in the moment and what we feel especially in a instant gratification society, however if we take a step back and reflect every now and then, you may realize how much your experiences mean and how you would not want to change them cause they make up who you are today.
David O. Russell, thank you for creating a movie that is not just one of the best films of 2012, but a film that has moved and touched audiences like few films have in recent years.