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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Following the Signs with “Silver Linings Playbook”

When life gets us down, it can be hard to pull yourself back up and figure out where to go next. At times it can feel like a long process of wandering through bouts of depression and anger; resentment of misunderstanding personal purpose and a sense of overall frustration, but those bends in the road we see are not the end of the road, simply opportunities to change the path of life. In plain terms, all bends in the road still lead us somewhere through signs. The question is where? And what are they trying to show to us?

In David O. Russell’s Academy Award nominated film, Silver Linings Playbook, the director presents Matthew Quick’s best-selling debut novel in an endearing and honest approach, proving that signs are all around us and the closer we get to manifest our dreams and desires, these signs, accompanied by synchronicity will occur outside our normal perception where an infrastructure between one’s dreams, desires, and faith exists.

Image Credit: The Weinstein Company

Silver Linings Playbook, deemed as a romantic comedy is not your average ‘rom com’ and really, we should all be thankful to Russell because he sheds the persistent anemia from the popular genre and brings an endearing ‘silver lining’ to it with his direction and vision, injecting this story with realism, honesty and most importantly, grit.

The film follows Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) as he tries to reintegrate with society after being released from a mental institution. Currently in the care of his mother (Jacki Weaver) Dolores and father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) after eight months of treatment, Pat is battling bipolar disorder and learns he’s not only lost his house and his job but his wife Nikki, who to his denial has moved on after she cheated on him. His obsession with her drives him and he becomes determined to get her back and fix things. As he remains positive, he discloses to his therapist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher) that though he hates his illness and wants to control it, he believes one thing to be true:

You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.

While on his path to reuniting with Nikki, Pat’s family wants him to share with them their obsession of football, and cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles while he gets back on his feet. In the meantime he’s convinced himself that if he is more regimented and open, Nikki will see this and take him back. He begins a disciplined regime of reading American classics (that he doesn’t exactly agree with) and jogs daily in a black garbage bag to increase heat and ultimately sweat off the pounds, in an attempt to look more desirable to her.

However, along the way Pat meets a mysterious young woman who is equally dysfunctional and mentally unstable with problems of her own. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who is trying to get past her own issues following the death of her husband, seeks friendship with Pat who is hesitant at first. The two personalities initially clash with one another but soon realize they have more in common than they thought. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his ex-wife, but on a condition that he’ll help her with her own project. As their agreement plays out and the two grow closer through friendship and adoration, they form an unexpected bond through their heartaches and create silver linings of their own together.

Through Pat’s journey we learn about the perceived signs he encounters, the ongoing hope he finds through his ‘silver linings’ and the synchronicity of how things line up for him in a way that brings meaning to each event taking place in his life. He is given a glimpse of the road less traveled through all of these vocations and due in no small part to Tiffany and her presence. The film dabbles most eloquently with synchronicity, the meaningful coincidences that occur in our life and the signs we see that ultimately prove how we are all interconnected and part of a larger life fabric. We all affect one another and these signs that appear when we need direction in our lives help to move us toward a true desire, showing us how easily our thoughts impact who we are and pave the way to our destiny. During Pat’s journey in discovering his silver lining, he comes across many signs he’s too oblivious to see because he’s blinded by his obsession of reuniting with Nikki, when the whole time right before him was the answer. De Niro as Pat Sr. shares a significant thought with Pat, telling him,

I’m telling you, you gotta pay attention to the signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back. I’m telling you, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back, and it’ll haunt you for the rest of your days like a curse. You’re facing a big challenge in your life right now, at this very moment, right here.

Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Bradley Cooper) taking a breather during dance practice in Silver Linings Playbook. Image Credit: The Weinstein Company

Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Bradley Cooper) taking a breather during dance practice in Silver Linings Playbook. Image Credit: The Weinstein Company

Russell, who also penned the screenplay has taken Quick’s novel and succeeded with keeping these characters honest and genuine, proving through their circumstances that being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference in life. Russell’s adaptation illustrates a heartwarming and hilariously realistic tale that has complications but creates such an overall admiration for the film and its characters. Russell’s cleverly written screenplay, complete with depth and wit, steers through the realism of relationship roadblocks and avoiding clichés. It helps greatly when working off from a novel that is humorous and uplifting. Quick created such an offbeat story with an unlikely protagonist that you definitely feel for and resonate with.

Throughout the film Russell showcases lessons in love that are examined and articulated most artfully and effortlessly. One of the lessons is of patience; how we are reminded of serendipity and that timing plays a key factor in meaningful relationships. Another lesson illustrated is that no one is perfect and no love story is going to be perfect. The tortuous way the protagonists come together proves that love isn’t about finding reciprocal perfection with your spouse or significant other, but more about finding that mutual acceptance with someone who values you as a friend first and foremost. There shouldn’t ever be compromise in a relationship or feelings of self-doubt. When Pat and Tiffany are at the diner discussing why she was fired, Pat’s curiosity and questioning doesn’t scare Tiffany as she’s open to conversing with him about her past sexual behaviors. At one point, Pat discloses how Nikki was never open to talking candidly about sex and that talking about it to her made him feel like “such a pervert”, suggesting to the audience of how his wife regards his sexual opinions and thoughts as deviant.

Now Pat and Tiffany are not supposed to be characters that you can understand at first glance. They at times come off impolite and abrasive but there is great heart in both of them as subtle chemistry builds between them unconsciously. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence give immaculate performances as these two broken individuals who come together and find their true desires. The two are nominated for Academy Awards in the Best Actor and Actress category and for good reason. Cooper proves he’s impressive and gives one of the film’s most natural performances. The way he plays Pat is impeccable, with the proper amount of anxiety, fear, and stress and never overdoes it. This is by far Cooper’s stand out performance of his career unlike any other role he has played. Though eccentric and odd at times especially when he interacts with his family, therapist, and Tiffany, he’s funny, warm and fascinating to watch play Pat. On the other hand Lawrence, being so young in her career proves to be one of this generation’s greatest actresses. Her expressions and wit, along with her comedic timing is perfect. Throughout the film, you genuinely believe that both Cooper and Lawrence are Pat and Tiffany, embodying these aspects of their on-screen conditions. The chemistry between the two is absolutely charming and very natural. At times it seems these two have known each other for years but it comes down to superb direction, and an openness and trust with the performers.

Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) looking curious in a still from Silver Linings Playbook. Image Credit: The Weinstein Company

Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro as Pat’s loving parents deliver incredible performances and add such warmth to the story-line. The two have earned Academy Award nominations for their performances as well and De Niro’s character, though is a bit OCD in his superstitions, neatly adds a layer to the dynamics with his troubled son who hasn’t fallen very far from the tree. One of the tenderest scenes in the film that De Niro delivers is in his confession to Pat that he could have been a better parent. It is such a gentle scene of absolute authenticity, binding family, hope and faith, madness and epitomizing love.

The fact is none of us are ‘normal’. We’re all a bit idiosyncratic and sure, some have worse conditions than others but there’s something unique and loving within all of us. That state of normalcy we all seek, doesn’t really exist and this film is an impressive piece of film-making with somewhat of an examination into that aspect of our life. It’s a warm and engaging film about real people who have real problems. A lot of films in the romantic comedy genre take away from the character development and overall realism by showing them as almost two-dimensional and most times featureless.

David O. Russell is a gifted filmmaker and has been showcasing his strengths as a visionary since his 1999 break-out hit, Three Kings. With Silver Linings Playbook, he has created a fine film that has garnered 8 Academy Award nominations with an amazing ensemble cast including Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, and John Ortiz. It has also made history by becoming the first film in 31 years to receive nominations in all acting categories.

The story may follow a family in a serious situation and may walk a thin line in crafting a romantic comedy about mental illness, but we can all identify with the realism and sentiment of struggling through obstacles and overcoming challenges. Silver Linings Playbook is a sweet and endearing one-of-a-kind film about life, love, and all that’s in between; and pursuing a dream you never dreamed of, though realizing through the obstacles and signs, that it’s something you’ve definitely needed your whole life. No matter what road you take in life and how you craft your path or where you go with it, we can all find our own “silver lining” at the end of it all as we look to what the signs show us.

Silver Linings Playbook is now in theaters. Watch the 85th Annual Academy Awards, February 24 on ABC to see if the film and its actors pick up the coveted Oscar! Check your local listings.


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3 Comments on “Following the Signs with “Silver Linings Playbook””

  1. maemi August 23, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Great article, the title really caught my eye! ;)


  1. Following the Signs with “Silver Linings Playbook” | westlifebunny - March 30, 2013

    […] Continue reading… […]

  2. The Hudsucker Takes on the Oscars: Predictions, Hopes and Snubs | The Hudsucker - April 4, 2013

    […] Tania says: “I really love Argo and believe it’s an amazing film that proves how Ben Affleck is a a film-making visionary whose contributions to modern movie making are definitely going to benefit our cinematic palette for years to come. That being said, the Academy hasn’t been to kind to Affleck and if Argo doesn’t win, I would really love to see Silver Linings Playbook win the Academy Award. A lot of people believe a “rom-com” can’t win an Oscar, but calling it a romantic comedy is actually really limiting to the perception of how far this film can go and what it really means for the years to come. It examines mental illness through emotionally unstable characters in a genuinely honest plot and I really believe that gives this “romantic comedy” edge and pathos. With having darker elements to a film like this, it’s sort of reminiscent of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment which explored infidelity, heartache and attempted suicide, but won for Best Picture in 1960. Despite the weighty subject matter like its predecessor, Silver Linings Playbook can be looked back at over the years, offering fascinating complicated characters and still feel fresh and resonate with the growing film audience which is so important to the benefit of cinema.” (Read Tania’s review of “Silver Linings Playbook” here.) […]

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