Silver Linings Playbook – an unexpected joy

A few years ago I made a decision to go to the cinema far far less. This came after experiencing a spate of mainstream films full of violence and terrible female characters shown in cinemas full of people chatting and checking their phones. I reasoned good films would make it to Film 4 or iTunes, and the films worth seeing would bubble up somehow. My life got better, as did my bank balance.

As a result, I see a lot of films a long time after general release, and yesterday I watched the Silver Linings Playbook. This had hit my radar early in 2015, as it was Oscar nominated, but it sounded a bit… bleak. It’s not.

It’s a story of a man, Pat, with mental health problems, released from a psychiatric institution and brought back into the family home by  his mother. He is fixated on reviving his marriage, despite the restraining order placed on him, and goes about attempting to better himself to prove his stability to his wife. Through a friend, he meets a woman, Tiffany, who has also experienced mental health issues, and they form a friendship. You can probably guess the rest.

What I liked about the film, though, was the sense of how many people are struggling mentally in so many different ways. Yes, Pat and Tiffany are extreme examples, but Pat’s friend is putting himself under absurd pressure with his own wife and job, Pat’s father is almost dangerously superstitious, Pat’s brother, wildly successful in professional and personal ways also finds himself virtually unable to communicate with Pat.

Ultimately Pat and Tiffany, through their honesty (in most areas) and acceptance of the other person’s complete being, including their illnesses, are able to connect with each other. And perhaps underlying the film is this idea of acceptance – of weaknesses of all sorts, in all the relationships we see. Tiffany lies to Pat in quite a significant way, but he is able to understand and forgive that. There are no ‘sorted’ individuals here, but that doesn’t mean they can’t love each other and have happy families. It’s refreshing. And recommended.