Monday, July 29, 2013

The Silver Linings Playbook


I made a rookie error: I saw the film before I read the book.

I couldn't get the image of Pat being Bradley Cooper and Tiffany being (oscar winning!) Jennifer Lawrence out of my mind from then on. I can only speak from the perspective of having seen the film first - and I would definitely recommend you read the book as well.

It soon becomes apparent when reading The Silver Linings Playbook that Matthew Quick has created an imperfect and unreliable narrator in Pat Sharp. Pat has been recently released from a psychiatric hospital, the length of his stay unknown, he is desperate to repair his relationship with his estranged wife - reading the books she wanted and losing weight through drastic measures. He is a man convinced that his life is a movie being directed by God. Pat is certain that whatever has happened in the past God will ensure that he has a happy ending in his life. His estranged wife, Nikki, will come back to him once she is aware of his journey, the journey is writing down and recording so that she can read it all and understand how far he has come. This is until he meets Tiffany, recovering from the tragic death of her husband, Pat finds her very strange. Following him around town on his runs, asking awkward questions, and telling him the truth which everyone is trying to protect him from.

Despite being aware that he is unreliable in his account of past events I found that Pat was relatable: his take wasn't too extreme, he was simply trying to gloss over the bad things and focus on the positives. His family around him, doing the natural thing, and protecting him from himself and the truth yet at the same time weren't a perfect family themselves. His father struggles with the idea of an intimate and close relationship with his son and his mother struggles to be anything but a cleaning lady and cook for the men in her life. It was refreshing to read a book about mental health issues and to see how the family and people around the person affected struggle to cope and understand the illness affecting their loved one.

The film and the book are very similar, to a point... The book, in my opinion, focuses more on the mental health side of the story more than the love story. There aren't always rational reasons or excuses given for the characters' behaviour in the book which I think the film overcompensates for and loses the poignancy of certain moments as a consequence. The Silver Linings Playbook is a subtle story, well told, and an easy read - perfect for the Summer holidays because whilst it's a difficult topic it is well told and uplifting.

I don't feel that seeing the film before reading the book ruined it for me - I had the image of Pat being Bradley Cooper in my mind, which suited me fine, but if you're not a fan of Bradley's (why!??!!) then you might want to give the film a miss! ;)

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8 comments

A Bittersweet Symphony said...

What I didn't understand is why the replaced the dance sequence to Total Eclipse of The Heart that was so good even in words, with the weird mash-up they had in the movie.

Also I didn't like how the movie put the whole focus on the bet at the end, completely sidelining everything else.

HANNAH H said...

Seeing a film adaptation really puts me off reading the book but I have heard some very good things about this so may give it a go. Would you say the book is better than the film?

Alice @ ofbooks.org said...

I managed somehow to hold off watching the film till I read the book, and while I think Tiffany should have been played by an older actress, Lawrence nailed it. Now when I think of them, I think of Cooper and Lawrence. If only they had kept Kenny G in the film! I did prefer the focus on mental health in the book, which was rose tinted in the film.

Ugh, I love it.

Sarah said...

I sat down to watch the film yesterday but turned it off after 5 mins because I wasn't in the mood and I was already noticing differences which annoyed me. I'm sure when I'm in a better mood I'll go back and enjoy the film. But for me the book was fantastic and I still imagined Bradley Cooper as Pat so win win. xxx

Amanda Albert said...

I agree with you. It's difficult to maintain your own personal perspective of a book once it has been translated to film. This was incredibly difficult for me when the Harry Potter films were released.

- Amanda
joyswithoutpleasure.blogspot.com

Louise from: //This Book Is Reserved// said...

Yes!! And why it was a genuine dance competition rather than a gala for mental health...hollywood schmollywood!

Louise from: //This Book Is Reserved// said...

I think so yes; it's not that the film isn't good, but rather the book is better IMO. I found both enjoyable though, so I wouldn't say steer clear of the film if you liked the book, just maybe read it first? Let me know how you get on! Louise xo

Louise from: //This Book Is Reserved// said...

Oh really? Did you not enjoy it? Would be interested to hear your views if you ever manage to make it through the whole thing haha xx

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