Larry and I recently went to see the movie “Silver Linings Playbook.” I had heard that the movie dealt with mental illness, and I was anxious to see how it was portrayed.
In the movie, Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a man newly released from a mental treatment hospital where he has been a patient for eight months.
Pat had undiagnosed bipolar disorder when he arrived home from work one day to find his wife, Nikki, in the shower with another man. Pat beat the man almost to death, and as part of a plea agreement, he entered the mental hospital.
At the time of his release, Pat resists taking his medication, and he insists that having a positive attitude, getting in shape and becoming a different person will win back his wife and his old life.
This doesn’t seem too likely because Nikki has a restraining order against him, and Pat is allowed no contact with her.
Meanwhile, Pat’s father, played by Robert De Niro, has lost his job and his pension and is bookmaking in order to make enough money to start a restaurant. He is consumed by the Philadelphia Eagles and how well they perform. He’s insistent that Pat being back home is going to bring him good luck with the games.
Pat meets a friend’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Tiffany is a recent widow. She hints at suffering from depression before her husband died, and after he died, she chose some very self-destructive behaviors.
Pat and Tiffany begin a friendship. Both are broken in their own way, and they understand each other in ways that others don’t. But they have their moments, such as when Tiffany senses that Pat thinks she’s “crazier” than he is.
Eventually, Pat asks Tiffany to give Nikki a letter from him, and Tiffany agrees to do it provided Pat participates in a dance competition with her.
I won’t give away any more of the plot. But we see Pat and Tiffany both make changes in their lives, and they come to understand themselves and their families better.
I thought the movie portrayed the hardships of mental illness very well. We see the confusion, worry and helplessness Pat’s family experiences as they learn to live with their son again.
We see the pain that Pat has as he faces his friends and acquaintances after having spent time in a mental hospital.
I don’t have bipolar disorder and I’m certainly not an expert. But I was impressed with Cooper’s portrayal of a man who seems captive to his emotions, who can’t seem to stay focused.
I especially liked how the movie portrayed the changes in Pat. He begins to take his medication, without fanfare, but with commitment. He goes to therapy. He exercises. He practices dancing, which he admits helps his focus and his discipline.
We see him improve over the course of the movie, and it’s due to all of those things as well as the relationships that he forges with family and friends.
The only quibble I had about the movie’s portrayal of mental illness was the way OCD was handled. Twice, Pat refers to his father’s superstitions and rituals about football games as “OCD.” I don’t know if De Niro’s character had OCD or not—it’s hard to tell. But those rituals were front and center in a lot of the storyline, and his problem seemed glossed over in the plot.
I recommend “Silver Linings Playbook” as a good movie in its own right, and a realistic portrayal of a person suffering from a mental illness.
Have you seen “Silver Linings Playbook”? If so, what did you think of the way it portrayed mental illness? If not, how do you think pop culture in general portrays mental illness? What needs to be improved?
Update on the foot
Thank you for all the kind wishes, thoughts and prayers that you sent my way for the healing of my foot!
I saw the orthopedic doctor on Monday. He told me that the break started out as a stress fracture but is now something called a Jones fracture.
He said it’s going to take a long time to heal because it’s in an area of the foot that doesn’t have a good blood supply, and one of the ligaments in the foot pulls across the fractured area.
Sometimes this type of fracture doesn’t heal, and surgery has to be performed to insert a screw.
For the next three weeks I need to continue wearing the boot and I need to keep weight off of it as much as I can. I’m struggling to use crutches. It’s exhausting to get around on those things!
I go back to see him in three weeks, and he’s hoping to see some new bone growth.
Let’s hope I won’t need surgery!