“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed. I can’t begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else.”
Pat in Silver Linings Playbook, 2012.
The movie was adapted for the screen by director David O. Russell, based on the novel The Silver Linings Playbook (2008) by Matthew Quick.
One summary: “The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, with Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, and Julia Stiles in supporting roles.
“Cooper plays Patrick ‘Pat’ Solitano, Jr., a man with bipolar disorder who is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves back in with his parents, played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.
“Determined to win back his estranged wife, Pat meets recently widowed Tiffany Maxwell, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, who offers to help him get his wife back if he enters a dance competition with her.
“The two become closer as they train and Pat, his father, and Tiffany examine their relationships with each other as they cope with their problems.” [Wikipedia]
It is an engaging and poignant depiction of real people struggling and surviving with mental health issues, and finding themselves in spite of those challenges.
(Photo at top from Silver Linings Playbook – A BA Thesis Analysis.)
Pat: You’re crazy!
Tiffany: I’m not the one who just got out of that hospital in Baltimore.
Pat: And I’m not the big slut!… I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m sorry.
Tiffany: I was a big slut, but I’m not any more. There’s always going to be a part of me that’s sloppy and dirty, but I like that. With all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself f**ker? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?
Scenes like this are not only strong and “cinematic” with engaging dialogue and acting, but also bring out important issues related to mental health, such as how people can be dismissive or disparaging of those they label as “crazy” or “inferior” in some way.
And we may even label and criticize ourselves in those ways.
Novelist Matthew Quick struggled with depression while writing his novel The Silver Linings Playbook, and said in an interview that although he has never been diagnosed as bipolar, his wife “would tell you I’m bipolar.
“It’s not as severe as what Pat [the bipolar character in the book and movie] goes through but I’m someone who understands mood swings.”
Quick comments: “The way our brains are wired creates problems, but they can also create beautiful things. If I didn’t have depressive episodes, I wouldn’t be a novelist.
“When I wrote this book, I had been living in my in-laws’ basement for two years. I was unemployed and felt very alone. I hope this book helps people feel less alone, too.”
From my article Can Depression Help People Be More Creative? Part 2.
Another interview article notes:
“A beloved English teacher in South Jersey, Matthew Quick may have been financially stable, but he was far from happy. With the support of his wife, Quick left his job at age 30, sold his house, and began writing full-time in his in-laws’ unfinished basement for three years.
“As he battled mood swings and severe depression, Quick became inspired to write “The Silver Linings Playbook,” which became an instant success and earned him a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention.”
“To use the word ‘depression,’ that was not something I was comfortable with for most of my life and I think my wife really forced me to look at the fact that I was not happy, I was depressed, I had anxiety issues and I wasn’t really living the life that I wanted to live.
“That was a hard thing for me to admit in my 20’s. I think, metaphorically, that experience probably inspired, on a subconscious level, Tiffany.”
From A conversation with ‘Silver Linings’ author Matthew Quick, November 24, 2012 by Patrick Ryan.
In her article 5 Great Movies That Portray Mental Illness Perfectly, Mandi McGuire comments on the movie:
‘After an extensive stay in a psychiatric hospital under court order, Pat returns to his childhood home to rebuild his life. Optimistic that his marriage can be repaired “since he’s better now”, he teams up with his neighbor, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), to regain his ex-wife’s affection.
‘With motives and a disorder of her own, Tiffany holds her contact with Pat’s ex-wife over his head and coerces him to compete in a dance competition with her. Hilarity and moments of mania in public ensue.
‘These specific illnesses are rarely portrayed in an accurate way. Having Bipolar Disorder myself, I was extremely happy with the imagery and tonal changes in this film.’
Jennifer Lawrence has talked about the value of acting for her mental health:
“On stage, my mother…saw my anxieties disappear. … I felt capable whereas before I felt good for nothing. This is why mom fought for me to become an actress.”
From my article Performers With Stage Fright and Anxiety.
Silver Linings Playbook [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel by Matthew Quick.
“I think there’s always a need for entertainment and for things that can take you away from reality.
“I also think we all have the capacity for deep emotion, deep suffering, deep pain.
“Obviously, living these things because someone in your family has AIDS or you’re starving or your kid’s sick or you’re heartbroken is different from experiencing them through a film; but I think we need to experience certain things, and movies can help with that.” – Natalie Portman
[Interview mag., July 2004. She studied psychology at Harvard and graduated with honors.]
[Photo by Maarten de Boer during the 2016 TIFF Toronto International Film Festival, from natalieportman.com]
Winona Ryder starred in the film Girl, Interrupted in 1999, based on Susanna Kaysen’s novel, and thinks Kaysen “captures a mood we’ve all experienced.
“It’s like a reflective time we’ve all had in our lives, whether to kill ourselves, whether to be miserable or move on.
“You go through spells where you feel that maybe you’re too sensitive for this world. I certainly felt that.”
“There was a time when I was 19 when I really, really, really thought I was going crazy,” she has said about her own brief stay at a psychiatric clinic.
“I was exhausted and going through a terrible depression. I had had panic attacks from the age of 12 – probably from the pressure of working and then going through adolescence onscreen.”
She left to get a year of intensive therapy, and recalls, “I was wallowing and I eventually got sick of it – I got sick of being sick.
“I was coming out of my own serious depression and I didn’t know what to label it, just as Susanna doesn’t know what to label hers.
“There was nothing really wrong with Susanna. They called her a ‘borderline personality’ because they couldn’t diagnose her.”
video: Girl, Interrupted (1999) – Winona Ryder – HBO First Look: The Making Of
Inside Out was named “Best Animated Feature” at the 2016 Oscars.
In her review for Counseling Today magazine, Erin Shifflett writes:
“A person’s mind is a mysterious labyrinth of thoughts, feelings, memories, ideas and compulsions; the mind of a young girl is likely even more complex.
“Disney-Pixar’s latest animated offering, Inside Out, bravely delves into that intricate world in a way that effectively captures the nuances of the way people feel and think—and maybe helps them understand why they act the way they do sometimes.
“Developed with the guidance of University of California, Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, the film tells the tale of Riley, an 11-year old whose family relocates from Minnesota to San Francisco…
“The importance of Sadness and, indeed, the other less pleasant emotions such as Fear, Disgust and Anger, is highlighted multiple times throughout the film when their roles and functions are explained.”
Read more and see clip in post: Inside Out and Emotional Health.
7 Of The Best Movies About Mental Health By Laura Greenstein, NAMI the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dec. 04, 2015.
Autism: Rain man
Anxiety: What About Bob
OCD: As Good As it Gets
Schizophrenia: A Beautiful Mind
General Mental Health: Inside Out
Media’s Damaging Depictions of Mental Illness By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Multiple articles in the PsychCentral blog Movies and Mental Health by Joseph Burgo, Ph.D.
Movie Clips for Creative Mental Health Education by Fritz Engstrom, MD.
Movies and Mental Illnes: Using Films to Understand Psychopathology by Danny Wedding, PhD and Ryan M. Niemiec, PsyD.
The Motion Picture Prescription: Watch This Movie and Call Me in the Morning by Gary Solomon, PhD.
My TalentDevelop and Creative Mind network of sites include many dozens of articles on mental health. One of the challenges for filmmakers is in getting the tone and science of psychopathology right.
Another challenge is in the evolving attitudes and definitions of “illness” – one of my articles on that topic is Rethinking Creativity and Depression.
One of my Creative Mind video channels:
Mental Health – Emotional Health
Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.