Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
Do I have a movie for you today! I know some of you saw it and loved it because you mentioned it on your blogs. It's the outstanding Silver Linings Playbook (2012, Rated R, available on DVD).
Doctors discover that Pat Solatano, Jr. (Bradley Cooper) has undiagnosed bipolar disorder when he nearly beats to death a man having an affair with his wife, Nikki. Sentenced to spend a minimum of eight months in a mental institution, Pat's time is up, but doctors think he should stay put. Instead, Pat convinces his mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver), to check him out and take him to stay in his parents' home.
Pat thinks he can get back his old job as a substitute teacher and reunite with Nikki by using magical thinking to find the silver lining in everything. However, we learn quickly that Pat is not stable. The song played for the first dance at his wedding sends him into a frenzy. His first night at home, he doesn't sleep, instead scanning a book, becoming irritated with it, and throwing it through a window.
His father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), has problems of his own. Because of OCD, he must have the remote controls for his television laid out in a certain way. He's lost his job and become a bookie. He angrily nags Pat Jr. to watch football with him, insisting that Pat's presence will affect the outcome of the games.
But then Pat Jr. meets a young widow who demands his help with a project. She's Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), and she has plenty of problems of her own. Gradually, their relationship changes their lives.
I love Silver Linings Playbook. It's sad and it's funny and it's uplifting. It's well written, well shot, and the acting is great. It was nominated for a whole slew of Academy Awards, and Jennifer Lawrence took home the Best Actress statue. I also think it's important for audiences to see that plenty of regular people have mental illnesses, and they are treatable illnesses. As a country, as a society, we need to reduce the stigma associated with mental problems. I'll tell you right now that Silver Linings Playbook has The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval.
I have some problems with this movie, however. The characters are stereotypes. Pat Sr. has OCD and I suspect also has undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Pat Jr. is the classic bipolar disorder patient who thinks he doesn't need medication. Dolores is the enabler. Tiffany is the troubled woman with a heart of gold.
SPOILER ALERT REGARDING THE NEXT PARAGRAPH:
But the stereotypes don't bother me too much because Silver Linings Playbook provides a glimpse of what it's like to live with someone who has a mental illness. I love a happy ending, but I'm concerned with the "love can save everyone" plot point. Viewers might say, Aw, this is so sweet, and won't notice everything that actually goes into helping Pat Jr. improve. Pat Sr. also seems better by the end of the movie, simply because one gambling deal went well with Pat Jr.'s help. Dolores's behavior seems transformed into well-designed motherly love because Tiffany's pursuit of Pat was a "random" act of kindness engineered by Dolores.
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Although it's rated R, I think you can allow teens about age 14 and older to watch Silver Linings Playbook with you, as long as you discuss it afterwards.
And now, I wish you a beautiful weekend filled with peace and not too much house and yard work. Spending time with the people you love and doing what you can to improve the state of the world, pursuing healthy passions – well, you already know living a life filled with acts of kindness is more important than a spotless kitchen floor.
Many thanks to my Middle Child Elisa at The Crazy Life of a Writing Mom for setting up this week's blogfest. I've read so many good posts, and hope to read more.
Infinities of love,