The Silver Linings Playbook is a novel that was written in 2008. Recognizing a winner, the Harvey Weinstein production company snatched up the movie rights to the novel even before it was published. The novel is about Pat, a man who had been institutionalized due to a traumatic event that is revealed towards the end of the novel. After he is released from the institution he goes back home to live with his parents and attempts to become re-acclimated to the normalcies of life outside of an institution. Through his best friend, he meets Tiffany, a woman who had dealt with as much trauma and mental illness as Pat. The two make an interesting couple as they navigate through life trying to cope with their past, present, and future.
The Silver Linings Playbook is a debut novel for Matthew Quick. Before becoming a writer, Quick taught high school literature and film in southern New Jersey. It seems that he was very involved in the community where he coached sports, led trips to South American countries and even has counseled troubled teens. Apparently, this background was what prepared him to write such an emotionally layered film about mental illness, forgiveness, love for sports and how to move forward in life. Since 2008, Quick has had three more novels published with two more on the way and all of them have also been optioned for film.
In my opinion, the storyline is wonderfully deep and complex, just like life. It would have been so much easier for Pat to recover if he only had to worry about dealing with the trauma and dissipation of his marriage. But, in this novel (as is true with life), he also had to deal with a dysfunctional family, meddling friends, and the Philadelphia Eagles. The voice and character of Pat, the narrator, was very clear and consistent. Although never explicitly stated in the novel, if Pat did indeed suffer from bipolar disorder, then the novel made it so that the reader would come to better understand what goes on inside of the head of a person with bipolar disorder. It is not just utter confusion but very calculated and focused, albeit focused on perhaps the wrong things.
I wonder if Matthew Quick wrote this novel and all of his succeeding novels with the idea that it might work on the silver screen some day. As a literature and film teacher, one could argue that he certainly understands more than others what makes for a great film adaptation. I would also ask him how he liked the film adaptation of this novel and what he thought of the changes that were made. While writing these book and movie comparisons, I have discovered that if a book and movie are both great and if the movie pays homage to the spirit of the book in an appropriate way then the film only makes me like the novel more and the novel only makes me like the film more. This is not the case here. I saw the movie first and liked it. I read the novel and then re-watched the film and became annoyed with the liberties that were taken. For example, the father in the novel was very cold and neurotic, hateful towards his son (except on game day, and only if the Eagles were winning), while the father in the film was stern but warm. I can understand not having time to flush out all of the complexities within the family unit but, to change them completely, irritated me. Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen the movie, the ending of the movie was definitely different from the novel when it didn’t have to be.
Not to completely put the film down, I enjoyed the film because the acting was great and, now, after having seen American Hustle, also directed by David O. Russell, I have a lot of respect for the director and think that he definitely knows what he is doing. He is becoming a Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg of sorts where he manages to direct good acting because good actors want to work in his films and good actors want to work with him because he does such a good job at directing them. Russell, as well, takes risks by putting his confidence in actors who maybe haven’t been given the chance to show what they are really made of. Jennifer Lawrence was really only known for Winter’s Bone and action flicks (awesome action flicks-Hunger Games and X-men: First Class) before David Russell started working with her. Now she has an academy award and could possibly win another. This year is the 86th Academy Awards and since its beginning there have been only 15 movies that have earned nominations in all four acting categories. Last year, The Silver Linings Playbook did it and this year American Hustle did it. That’s pretty incredible.
The novel was a great listen as the narrator did a wonderful job displaying the innocence and genuine nature of Pat. The other voices were very convincing as well. I recommend the book to any fiction lover, especially men because of the strong tie the novel has to the love of football. I am not sure that I would recommend it to someone who loved the movie because I was very disappointed in how the movie was adapted from the novel.