Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Silver Linings Playbook: My Take on the Book behind the movie

The Silver Linings Play Book

By Matthew Quick

From the publisher:
Meet Pat Peoples. 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 him a happy ending—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years 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 haunted by Kenny G!
As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”

My take on the book:

Despite a few things I hesitate to label as problems, I'll just call them glitches, I was taken with this book right from the first page. Actually from the first chapter title which is " An Infinite Amount of Days Until My Inevitable Reunion with Nikki "  What would you expect from a book in which the first sexy strains of Kenny G. can send the main character spiralling out of control?
The glitches? A couple of phrasing choices ---  everyone inexplicably calls the mental health facility that Pat has been in, "the bad place"  AND Pat labels his separation with Nikki as "apart time"  as in "When apart time is over ..." which I found extremely irritating as Pat is not a child, he is a 35 year old man. The phrases make him sound like a child (which he is emotionally at this point) but he's still an intelligent if misguided man who has suffered severe trauma and has buried the parts of his memory that would access the cause of that trauma, but the rest of his vocabulary is appropriate. I just don't get it.
The big glitch which I decided to disregard while reading is that after Pat comes home, his best friends' wife, Veronica (Julia Stiles), invites him to dinner, along with her sister, Tiffany, who is an extremely devastated and unstable widow. Quick paints Veronica as controlling and not a huge Pat fan so it's bizarre to think she would willingly set up her troubled sister with her husbands dangerously troubled best friend. Especially because she is Tiffany's "designated support buddy and therefore has weekly phone conversations with Tiffany's therapist". Is that the kind of man - mentally unstable - that a therapist would recommend Tiffany get involved with? I don't buy it. BUT putting that aside, buying it anyway, Pat and Tiffany begin a strange friendship which involves a lot of running, and training for a dance competition.
His main goal is to get his wife back. We don't know why but there are mutual restraining orders in place. Obviously some heavy stuff went down for the restraining orders to be initiated as well as putting Pat away for a time period that he thinks has been a few months. Over the course of the book we get a more accurate look at just how long he has been away.
We also get good looks at the people in his life; his unconditionally loving mother who seems to devote herself to her son rather than deal with her beyond grouchy spouse (played by Robert Deniro in the film). Danny (Chris Tucker), his "black friend" from "the bad place". His therapist who likes to be called by his first name, Cliff. His brother. And most importantly Tiffany and Nikki. While there are some unbelievable aspects to the story and some hilariously out there characters, the heart of the tale is poignant and powerful.
I'm looking forward to seeing Bradley Cooper as Pat but am a bit worried that he will be able to capture Pat's inner turmoil. His vulnerability. I have no doubt he will be able to capture his anger; that's clear from the trailer. We are in his head all through the book so I'm curious to see how the writer and director handled that without reverting to an endless voice over.
Tiffany is a bit older than Pat in the book but as played by Jennifer Lawrence that's not the case. Since there's nothing about her character that dictates she needs to be older, it seems like it was an arbitrary writer's call so I'm sure the young Jennifer Lawrence will be fine.
The movie tie-in paperback edition of the book comes out October 16th when it will retail for $15. I just read it on my Nook for $9.99. The film comes out November 21st. It was a quick enjoyable 230 odd pages. Predictable? Sure. But pleasantly so.

4 comments:

  1. The movie looks interesting and it sounds like it is if it's anything like the book.

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    1. Jennifer Lawrence is a good deal younger than the woman in the book but I'm not sure how that impacts the story. The movie does look good!

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  2. I read a very good review of this in the Wall St. Journal the other day. I wondered if it would be good from the commercial, but the review definitely won me over.

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    1. Oh that's great to hear. I'll think of Bradley Cooper in YOUR movie when I watch it!

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