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Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

By Patrick Samuel • October 10th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
The Weinstein Company

Original release: November 16, 2012
Running time: 122 minutes

Director: David O. Russell
Writers: David O. Russell, Matthew Quick
Composer: Danny Elfman

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher

Silver Linings Playbook

I’ve often wondered if I might be bipolar. The way my moods tend to change can often startle those around me, and sometimes I’ve even startled myself with how quickly an energetic and blissful morning can turn to an early afternoon of anxiety, tears and frustration. But while I ponder my own self-diagnosis I’ve seen others who’ve demonstrated far stronger characteristics associated with the disorder. A quick glance at the statistics reveals that in America alone, where the population is 316,829,000, it’s estimated that around 5.7 million adults are bipolar.

Though in percentages that’s minute, it’s still a staggering number of people who struggle with symptoms that include a sense of hopelessness, feeling emotionally empty, difficulties sleeping or sleeping too much, lack of concentration and even suicidal feelings. With bipolar disorder appearing in different degrees it can be hard to categorise and understand, and it’s understandable that those suffering with it might not want to be categorised for fear of stigmatisation, so apart from researching it ourselves how else can we learn more about it?

Silver Linings Playbook was a novel before it was a film. Written by Matthew Quick and released in 2008, it’s the story of Pat, a former teacher who’s moved back to his childhood home after spending time in a neurology hospital where he was being treated for his disorder. Once he’s back he starts to realise just how long he’s been away and struggles to catch up, but he believes life is a film created by God and that its “silver lining” will be his successful reunion with his wife Nikki, and he’ll do anything to get her back.

Silver Linings Playbook

In the film Pat is played by Bradley Cooper. He’s released into the care of his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and soon learns that his wife, Nikki, has moved away. Meanwhile his father is out of work and resorting to illegal bookmaking to earn money to start a restaurant. While Pat remains determined to get his life back on track he continues to suffer setbacks and encounters numerous frustrations in the form of Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a recent widow who just lost her job and has a reputation for being promiscuous.

As unlikely as they seem as a pair with all their fighting, Pat and Tiffany start to share things in common, including the way everyone else in the town views them as members of a leper colony. When Pat sees an opportunity to communicate to Nikki through Tiffany, he asks her to deliver a letter, in return for this favour Nikki wants Pat to be her partner in a dance competition she desperately wants to win.

In a film like Silver Linings Playbook there are lots of hurdles this seemingly mismatched pair must leap over before they realise they belong together and this isn’t Silver Linings Playbook
made any easier by Pat’s disorder which keeps getting in the way. The film does a great job in showing us what life is like, not just for Pat, but also for those around him who either struggle to accept him as he is or remain oblivious to the fact that it’s not his fault.

Yet despite performances put in by Cooper and Lawrence, the film falters by not tackling the issues head-on. While we see Pat on medication and undergoing therapy early on I couldn’t help but notice that towards the end his condition is nothing more than a loveable quirk that seems to have been forgotten about by the time credits start rolling. Pat’s need to resolve the issues of his broken marriage to Nikki and the realisation that he’s now in love with Tiffany seems to have been his magical cure, and when the film introduces the Philadelphia Eagles game, the gamble and the dance competition, it felt like there was simply too much going together with the love story and his bipolar starts to feel secondary in a story that began so emotionally charged.

However, like the Fox television show Homeland that introduces us to Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA intelligence officer assigned to the Counterterrorism Center, Silver Linings Playbook should be commended for the way it highlights some of the issues surrounding those with bipolar disorder, such as health care, stigmatisation and relationships. Yet I’d say it loses points for the way it chose to wrap everything up nicely with a neat bow. While the ending may reflect on a moment in time, it neglects to tell us about the steps Pat, and those around him, will be taking in the future to help make his disorder not as painful as it was when we first met him.

Silver Linings Playbook

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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