I saw the movie The Silver Linings Playbook, and I thought it was great while I was watching it, and great while I was driving home from the theater. But then after a day or two, I realized I didn’t really like it as much as I thought. I loved the characters and acting—Bradley Cooper finally starred in a movie that I actually liked and liked him in—but I thought the story ended a little too perfectly. I lost interest once the movie slipped away from being a film about mental illness and turned into a romance.
I also found myself very upset and offended with some of the people who had recommended the movie to me. This was because it was pitched to me as a comedy, with the dance scene between Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence being “hilarious.”
Either I missed something or I just have a very different opinion of what “hilarious” means, but I didn’t find the movie to be a comedy. Sure it had a few jokes and funny moments, but I found it to be very serious about a very serious subject. And the dance at the end? Knowing the characters and what they were going through, it wasn’t funny at all.
I’m still very upset that people would laugh at mental illness.
So why did I read this book if I already knew the story? Simple. I went on a cruise with my best friend and only took 1 book with me to read. Of course, it then rained most of our trip, and I bummed SLP off my friend to pass the time.
By Matthew Quick
Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!
In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”
Characters and Setting
Setting: New Jersey, mid-late 2000s
Pat Peoples—Just released from “the bad place” (a mental institution), Pat Peoples is full of plans to turn his life around. His number one priority? Win back his wife Nikki and end “apart time.”
Tiffany—The recently widowed Tiffany is crass, foul-mouthed, and abrasive. Having tried to cope with her husband’s death through sex, Tiffany is now trying to change for the better by focusing on dance.
Cliff Patel—Pat’s therapist who shares an avid love for the Philadelphia Eagles with Pat
What’s Good About The Silver Linings Playbook
- Voice—Mathew Quick writes Pat’s voice extremely well. It is clear from the get-go that Pat has issues. It is also clear that regardless of what his doctors and therapists have said and what his family and friends hope, Pat is still lost in his delusions.
- Characterization—Although Tiffany is not as active in the book’s plot as she is in the film’s, she is still very much actualized and well-developed. She’s a force.
- Cliff Patel, Pat’s family members, Ronnie and Veronica—Quick does a really good job of creating an “us and them” within his characters. Pat and Tiffany connect because they understand each other, even though their problems are different. Pat judges Tiffany at first but then comes to understand her because he moves past her reputation and the persona she projects to focus on the motivating pain within her. The other characters mean well, yet they never quite get Pat and Tiffany. They are focused on fixing the “problem” and are unable to see that their efforts are just a BandAid for what’s really wrong.
- Football—I don’t like football. I don’t understand it. In this book football is such a major part of the setting and characters, yet I didn’t find myself bored with it.
What’s Bad About The Silver Linings Playbook
- I had a hard time believing the romance between Pat and Tiffany. I could believe that Tiffany liked Pat, but I didn’t get that from Pat’s side of the story. The romance seemed contrived, as it did in the film. If the novel had ended with them being friends with the hint of something more, then I wouldn’t have minded. I just didn’t think Pat cared for Tiffany as much as she did for him.
- The third act of the novel didn’t really flow with the first two. Pat spends the majority of the story readjusting to life on the outside and watching football. It’s very much about the development of Pat’s character. Then suddenly the story switches gears and becomes about Pat and Tiffany training for a dance competition. This is hinted in the beginning of the story, and I knew it was coming having seen the movie, but had I read the book first I would have been surprised and disoriented by the switch.
The Silver Linings Playbook receives a 4/5 for me. I enjoyed it because of its characters and its subject matter. Mental illness is a complex and difficult topic. It is hard for someone to empathize with the mentally ill if they have not had their own issues and experiences. Because it is hard to comprehend, it is easy to fear those who are “different.” SLP is a way for readers to gain a better understanding of mental illness and what it’s like.
Book VS Movie
The film and the book start off the same. In fact, there are several bits of dialogue in the novel that were used directly in the film. However, after Pat and Tiffany’s date in the diner, the novel goes in one direction and the film in another.
The novel focuses on Pat’s relationship with his therapist and brother. Tiffany is present throughout the story, but Pat barely mentions her other than to say she runs with him every day. When Pat and Tiffany compete, the dance competition is completely different from the one in the film. Pat and Tiffany’s interaction with Nikki is also more subdued. In fact, unlike in the film, Nikki never interacts in person with Pat. She is always an abstract character.
The film focuses on Pat’s relationship with his father, played by Robert De Niro. In the film, Pat’s father has his own issues. He’s very superstitious and demands that Pat watch football with him because Pat is his good luck charm. Pat’s father also has a gambling problem, which propels the plot in the movie. All of this was created solely for the film.
The film includes Pat’s friend Danny, played by Chris Tucker. Danny shows up randomly and provides comic relief. In the novel, Danny is frequently referenced by Pat and appears towards the end of the story.
Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, becomes a main character in the movie. The film revolves around her relationship with Pat. The dance she and Pat prepare for is the climax of the film, as it is for the novel, however I think the film makes better use of it in terms of plot and suspense.
The biggest problem I have with the movie is that Tiffany comes across as more damaged than Pat. I can believe that Tiffany has problems, but Pat doesn’t seem as “crazy” in the movie as he does in the novel. Novel!Pat still believes that he and Nikki have a chance because Novel!Pat is living in a delusion. Movie!Pat seems more like someone who had a dark moment in his life and has periodic bouts of darkness but is “normal” the rest of the time.
Books Read By Pat In The Silver Linings Playbook
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
- A Farewell to Arms, Earnest Hemingway
- The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain