Review- Silver Linings Playbook

It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down and written up a good ol’ movie review. But I almost filled obliged after watching this latest one a few nights ago. Mainly because, it’s really rare that I watch the same movie more than once…ever (now that I’m not in college!) So the fact that I watched this movie twice, nearly three times in my 48 hour Amazon-rental-window means I must really like it. It also means that Tom was out of town those days and that is how productive I am with my time.

Ok. Silver Linings Playbook. At first glance from the trailer, I was hesitant because of the “R” rating and seemingly inappropriate topics the movie appeared to hinge on. However,Tom and I always have found that the movies we like best are the ones that get the Oscars, and well, this was a big Oscar & Academy Award nominee & winner so we were waiting for it to come to Amazon to give it a crack at our critique.

The story deals with mental illness in the main character, Pat, and his neighbor, Tiffany. The movie opens with Pat’s mom signing him out of a mental institution where he just spent the past 8 months, after pleaded insanity in the court for practically beating to death the man his wife was having an affair with. He won’t take his medication for undiagnosed bipolar and he’s bent on getting in shape for his wife Nikki, even though she’s left him, sold their house, and put a restraining order up against him.

You feel sad and really bad for Pat the whole first half of the movie. It’s obvious he’s a really nice guy, and his wife was pretty cruel to him. I was beginning to wonder why we rented this movie and how the heck it was categorized as a comedy. As the story unfolded though, I was really pleasantly surprised with how excellently the writer wove a very real, very believable, very beautiful story together.

So then there’s Tiffany, a young widow who fell into some pretty bad, er, unchaste ways of handling her depression after her husbands tragic death. Both characters meet and both are broken. But both want to rise above their failings & mistakes, but they need help. They find each other and find that they are capable of change, and worthy of changing.Tiffany agrees to get a letter of apology to Pat’s ex-wife and in exchange Pat agrees to be Tiffany’s dance partner for an annual dance competition that she never was able to do with her husband.

This is where I was surprised. I really expected a lot less of Hollywood. I expected the lead male to prey on Tiffany’s weaker side and for it to somehow realitivistically be justified as “the way she is”. But instead, Pat doesn’t give into her and instead affirms her in her value, even warding off other men who prey on her with strong lines of “This girl has a broken wing, she’s valuable. Have some respect” He is honorable and protective the whole movie, truly willing the good of the other. And likewise, Tiffany does not throw herself at Pat as they are falling in love, but stays focused and reserved on helping Pat become the best version of himself.

For 2013, I was ecstatically pleased to see a lead male character treating the lead female character with respect, honorable pursuit, forgiveness and no ulterior motive. Very, very rare for nowadays to find a love story that is actually about willing the good of the other.

Despite all the mess of a mess they each had been through, the movie was so much more moving, and in my taste, more beautiful of a love story because of all the messiness they had been through. It left the viewer thinking how on earth could someone come back from that? Be loved? Be valued? Be treated with dignity? Or given another shot? I was impressed that this film did not victimize the “victims”. I feel too often that’s our problem as a society, we don’t want to take responsibilities for our struggles so we just victimize the victims. Whether its with “anti-bullying” campaigns or grade inflations.

The message in Silver Linings Playbook was very clear, “You have to get a strategy”. We all have something we need to deal with in our life that is tough, and in a society that far too often hands out crutches for temptation, it was hugely refreshing to hear a loud memo saying “take responsibility” . We all have the power to be forgiven, to forgive those around us and to change. No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve been through. So inspiring!

Sounds pretty heavy, huh? But the writers had such a way of making this incredibly funny, because it was so real! With Robert De Niro playing Pat’s obsessive Eagle’s fan of a father and Chris Tucker as the friend from the mental hospital who keeps escaping and Pat who has no filter on his mouth…the movie was littered with a lot of humor. Almost to remind us that you have got to laugh at life, don’t take it too serious! Part of the reason I had to watch it twice was to not take it so seriously the second time around. To pick up on all that random dry humor.

Of course the dance was awesome. It’s almost always awesome to see a couple dance together. I would say it was quirky, but great. Like Dirty Dancing meets What About Bob. Without the Dirty. And with two Bobs. Plus, now Tom wants to take dance lessons…so…it’s a win for me.

Overall, I really liked it. And I want the soundtrack, but that’s mostly because of the Led Zepplin songs and Bob Dylan that were just so perfectly placed in the film. As a disclaimer, however, I give a big thumbs down to the amount of foul language (which earned the movie the rating it got). Also, there was one scene that I ripped my earbuds out and another that I covered my eyes & Tom’s. So aside from those parts, I can recommend it with a clear conscience. You’ve been warned.

In spite of those two “eh” very brief scenes, and due to the overwhelming message of forgiveness, responsibility, honorable pursuit and quite frankly : the dignity of the human being…I really found that I loved the movie through my “catechetical viewing glasses”. I think this movie really captured, somewhat unfortunately, the brutal reality of what some people are going through nowadays. But instead of putting the usual relativistic- victimization spin on it, the message was instead a very catechetical approach of true love and responsibility. Showing us that even with the mountains of baggage society may have now, old school principles are still possible for those of us living in 2013.

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