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Silver Linings Playbook, A Case History

Last night I watched the perfect date movie for manic depressives, the world over. “Silver Linings Playbook,” an Oscar winning film framed in the conventions of a Hollywood rom-com, is a story of the transcendent power of love. Pat (Bradley Cooper) returns from the horrors of mania to a world, which offers him the gifts of beauty and pain. We watch him re-adjust to life beyond the order and routine of a psychiatric hospital; a life minus his wife, his job and his own house, spent in his parents home, the bosom of familial love and contradictory realm of escape and frustration. “They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad…” (Philip Larkin). He is the bloom of their seed, the psychology of blame.
Watching the first half of the film, I was both surprised and somewhat piqued by the emotions it evoked in my irritable psyche. For the verbal “rantings” of the characters, especially those of the protagonist, annoyed me almost to the point of
contemplating turning off the noise and tuning into a more calming vibe; the space cadet of my thoughts eager to land. However, my commitment to accessing products of popular culture which centralise mental health awareness, kept me going. I am glad that it did. For, my reaction to listening to highly expressed emotion and Bradley Cooper’s pacey and urgent delivery of lines offered me insight into the difficulties encountered by the loved ones and supporters of people undergoing episodes of mania. When unwell, have I been as annoying as “Pat?” Probably. For the first time I saw myself through my Mother’s eyes. No wonder she often cries. No wonder she challenges.
The verbal battering I experienced in the first part of the film was, subsequently, replaced by a warm glow. Rom-com credentials raised their frothy heads and manipulated me into empathising with the characters. The introduction of a love interest for Pat, played with depth by Jennifer Lawrence, provided a counter-point and stressed the view that “madness” is not about chemicals and, rather, affects everyone in relative degrees.
Although the film did not say anything new and its format and structure were overwhelmingly traditional, “Silver Linings Playbook,” peeled away the mask of mental ill health and revealed that regardless of the issues we experience, people are more alike than different and possess similar needs and desires. Bipolar is a barrier to love, only if we make it. Silver linings exist for us all. In order to experience them, however, we must believe.

BOOKWORMS BEWARE-My novel, containing themes of mental health, recovery and LOVE is available on AMAZON and from other retailers. Buy THE GENERAL PARALYSIS OF SANITY by LOUISE M. HART and engage with your silver lining!


6 thoughts on “Silver Linings Playbook, A Case History

    • Thanks for your “like.” Anyone, so inclined, might also be interested in Bradley Cooper’s handsome features and Jennifer Lawrence’s heavenly bod. If not, there’s always Coronation Street and the News at Ten!

    • I have just read your review. I enjoyed the way in which you mentioned how the employment of light comedy presents bipolar disorder in a way which is more palatable to viewers. I think comedy can be the most difficult genre to write. Although the film was not wholly successful, it did raise the issue of mental ill health without resorting to too much darkness and despair. I believe that the art of successful comedic writing lies in communicating serious issues in a way which both amuses and informs, without dogmatism. When we laugh at others we laugh at ourselves.

  1. The last few lines of [bb1’s] previous comment hits it on the head for me! I enjoyed this film for the reasons you expressed, and particularly for the humor quotient that Marnie brought up. The longer I stick around on this planet (48 human yrs now) the more I believe that the human condition IN ITS ENTIRETY is all about degrees of madness… and HOW each of us handles it. I think this film did a great job of suggesting this. Maybe the first step to healing for all of us is seeing ourselves as connected, rather than separate, in the struggle to stay sane. We HAVE to laugh at ourselves–even in our darkest moments we are all just a bunch of silly monkeys running in circles trying to make sense of stuff that makes no sense…no?

  2. Absolutely! Even if we deny it, we all have the same wants, needs and desires. Ultimately, I believe this is to be loved. Repressing our true desires leads to the development of neuroses or, even psychosis. Were we to acknowledge our “real selves,” we would be more balanced and authentic human beings and thus inhabit a more balanced world.

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