Lunch & a Movie Series :: Silver Linings Playbook
About the Movie: Silver Linings Playbook is the story of Pat Solitano, who after a stint in a mental institution, the bipolar former teacher moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife, Nikki. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own, and whose sister is friends with Nikki, Pat’s estranged wife.
Brief Synopsis: After eight months of treatment for bipolar disorder, Pat Solatano, Jr. is released from a mental health facility into the care of his mother Dolores and father Pat Sr. Pat soon learns that his wife, Nikki, has moved away, and that his father is out of work and resorting to illegal bookmaking to earn money with the hopes of opening a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after the violent episode sent him away.
While talking to his court-mandated therapist Dr. Cliff Patel, Pat explains why he was hospitalized: Coming home early from his high school teaching job after getting into an argument with the school’s principal, he had found his wife in the shower with the history teacher from his school, and nearly beat the man to death. Despite this, Pat doesn’t believe he needs medication to manage his condition. He tells Cliff that he has taken a new outlook on life. This is a reference to the name of the film, as he attempts to see the good, or “silver linings”, in all that he experiences, however challenging. As part of this outlook, and transformation, he has lost weight and has attempted to read all the literature books his estranged wife (Nikki, who is also a teacher) teaches from her class syllabus.
At dinner with his friend Ronnie, he meets Ronnie’s sister-in-law, Tiffany Maxwell, a widow who had just recently lost her job. Pat and Tiffany develop an odd friendship through their shared neuroses, and he sees an opportunity to communicate with Nikki through her. Tiffany offers to deliver a letter to Nikki if, in return, he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees and the two begin a rigorous practice regimen over the following weeks. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki he has changed and become a better man. Tiffany gives Pat a typed reply from Nikki, in which she cautiously hints there may be a chance for a reconciliation between them.
“Dinner at Ronnie’s”
Why I chose it: Alright, so I tried to watch a screener of this back when the movie was up for all the Oscar’s and could not get through it, not because it wasn’t good, but because the character of Pat was too close to that of my late husband, and it was incredibly painful to watch. I was ready to watch a different movie that was next on my Netflix queue this week, and when I turned on Netflix I was served up an AD for this one and thought, okay, I can do this, this time I’m going to finish it.
My thoughts in three sentences: Still so incredibly painful to watch in so many ways, some in how Pat is, some in the things he says (most especially his fixation on Nikki), and also the ending, which hurt a lot to see, the ending I would have liked to see my late husband find instead of the ending he made happen to himself. The acting is tremendous, especially Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence, and the music, too, really made moments and scenes come to life even more. It is a very honest and realistic portrayal of families and illness and recoveries and hope, and I’m glad I made it through, though I don’t know I could ever do it again.
Best: I loved Tiffany and all her complexities, her unapologetic self, her bluntness, her strengths and her weaknesses. I could relate to a lot of things she said, especially about giving to others, and about opening up and being judged for it. This was my favorite role that Jennifer Lawrence has played. I love what she brought to, and out of Pat, and what she demanded for her life and self, her tenacity, and the way she loved even after so much pain and loss. She embodied hope to me.
Worst: Dr. Patel. I thought he was a terrible therapist, especially when he insinuated that Nikki would want to see Pat acting in certain ways which encouraged his delusions and fixations on her, and winning her back. It was really irresponsible in my opinion, as was his presence in Pat’s family home after the fight at the game. I wanted better for Pat than what this therapist was offering.
Rating (out of 5): 4