Got my eagerly awaited copy of Silver Linings Playbook in the mail today. I’ve been waiting see what Hollywood’s latest take is on mental illness. It’s a story of a man, Pat Politano (played by Bradley Cooper), who is fresh out of mental institution. He was there for 8 months as a plea bargain for assault. He came home early from work and found his wife naked in the shower with a co-worker and beat the crap out of him. Yea he went nuts – extreme stress will do that to you if you are already on the edge with an underlying mental disorder.
I was wondering if they managed to capture a bit of how it feels to be labeled as bipolar. How it feels to have some force reach down in and rip your life out by the roots and throw it out the window. Pat has lost everything at this point; wife, house, job, friends. It was pretty much spot on. I also found it interesting that the movie managed to capture how mental illness can run in a family.
Pat grapples with not wanting to take medication and not wanting to accept that he is ill. Not long after coming home Pat has a spectacular middle of the night breakdown that ended up in a brawl with his father. Not long after this he decides to go back on medication. When he was standing there at the kitchen sink looking at the pills in his hand I felt like I had a brick in my throat. God is sucks to look at these little pellets in your hand and try to believe that they are what is keeping you sane, or “normal,” keeping you out of the hospital or jail, and able to interact with other people. And not wanting to believe it at the same time. Maybe it’s just too much for one mind to accept.
There was one scene that was so funny that I choked on my water. He was lying in bed in his parent’s attic reading, sat up and yelled “what the f@@k?” then threw the book out the window. The scene cuts to the yard and you see the book smashing through the window glass of the attic and splats in front yard. He was reading Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms. Oh my God, I so identify. When reading becomes your only solace, a bad ending can so absolutely enrage you to the point that you want to destroy the book. I’ve thrown books I’m mad at across the room, into the fireplace, even broken the spine and tore them in half. Somehow deleting them off my Kindle is not as satisfying. I’ve even been tempted to buy a hard copy of a book I hate just so I can destroy it.
He then goes down to his parent’s bedroom at 3:00 am to rant about Hemingway and bad endings to books. Yup, poor impulse control. He demands a personal apology from Hemingway. I wonder why it is that bipolar mania seems to catch us at 3:00 am, the most wicked hour of the day.
Throughout the story Pat is struggling from the obsession or delusion that he can somehow get back together with his wife. That’s a little tricky because his wife and the school he worked for have restraining orders against him. He is not allowed to come within 500 feet of his wife and is forbidden to communicate with her in anyway.
Enter Jennifer Lawrence in her Oscar winning role as Tiffany, a broken young widow who is struggling with her own demons. She agrees to help Pat contact his wife via letter in exchange for him helping her with her dream of entering a dance contest. The beginning of their relationship is so awkward that it’s cringe worthy. But, really how many relationships start off smoothly and always go according to plan.
I’m left with a sense that some things that are broken can never be fixed. And too much time is wasted trying to fix unfixable things. Maybe life is more about learning to coexist with lunacy.