***WARNING! Spoilers for both book and movie!***
Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (2008)
Silver Linings Playbook directed by David O. Russell (2012)
Thoughts on the book
I enjoyed this book quite a bit and it is definitely one I would recommend to people. I didn’t like it enough to spend $100 on a signed first edition; but I am glad to have read it. I really connected with the character of Pat. He was so open with his emotions and was very empathetic, for example when he feels bad for the son of the Giants fan and later when he feels bad for Terrell Owens because football fans are making fun of the athlete’s suicide attempt. He also cries a lot and just seems genuine with his emotions. His brain damage has caused him to be childlike in some ways, which again just made him more enduring.
I loved his mom and truly felt for her and the situation she was in. I also liked reading about the relationship he forms with Tiffany and how a lot of their time together is spent in silence. Or he will be talking and she will listen without offering advice which is the same thing we later get from his friend Danny. So often people feel the need to tell you what to do, when sometimes all you need is for someone to listen and when they start offering advice it can just add to the stress rather than help the situation.
Football plays a huge roll in this book and games are described in detail. I am not into football at all, however the football aspect in the book was fitting and didn’t bother me.
In general, I think this book has some great messages, for example the thoughts, “I am trying to be kind instead of right” as well as the importance of reading books that might make us uncomfortable or that don’t have happy endings, while also encouraging the reader to find the silver linings in life.
I saw this movie in 2013 I believe; however, I really didn’t remember much about it. I was watching it with other people and we ended up talking throughout most of the movie.
Bradley Cooper is perfect as Pat. In the book he suffers from the brain injury/head trauma, but in the movie, they say he has bipolar disorder. I was listening to the Armchair Expect Podcast hosted by Dax Shepard and he had Cooper on. Shepard and Cooper are friends and Shepard said when he saw Silver Linings, how similar Cooper is to the character of Pat. Cooper said his mom was on set and said the same thing, that it was like he was playing himself.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany and this was one of the first serious roles she was in that really solidified her as a serious actor. She is good in this, but I don’t know. For one, she is so young and, in the book, Tiffany was in her late 30’s. Lawrence is barely old enough to have been married to someone for three years as is said in the movie. It seemed like her character was sexualized a lot with some of the outfits she wore and then the very obvious scene in the diner when she is telling Pat about how she slept around. It was meant to be funny, and maybe I’m just too much of a killjoy, but I didn’t like the scene. It does show the hypocrisy of Pat though, because he wants to hear about this, but then judges her and shows that he feels he is superior to her.
Anyway, Lawrence is good in this, I guess I’m just not the biggest Lawrence fan personally. I haven’t’ seen anything she’s done more recently and maybe I would like her more now.
Anne Hathaway was supposed to be in this role but had to back out due to scheduling conflict and I think she would have been perfect in this role!
Robert DeNiro is in the role of Pat’s dad, Pat Sr. Some big changes were made to his character from book to movie, and I loved him in this and DeNiro was excellent.
Jacki Weaver is Pat’s mom and again, she was great in this role.
Changes to the storyline
There are a lot of changes from book to movie to go over, but I’ll start with some changes to the Nicki storyline. For starters, in the book Pat suffered brain damage whereas in the movie he has bipolar disorder. In the book, he is in the mental facility for four years and has suffered memory loss so not only does he not realize how long he has been away, but he also doesn’t remember what happened to get him in there. In the movie he is there for eight months and remembers everything. Early in the movie we see a flashback to when he finds his wife cheating on him. In the book this isn’t revealed til the very end of the book. In the movie, because we see that he remembers that Nikki cheated on him, it almost makes me wonder why he cared about getting her back. In the book it made more sense why he wanted her back so much, because he doesn’t even remember what had happened.
In both book and move we have the letters “from” Nikki that are actually written by Tiffany. A change in the movie though is that Pat gets a chance to talk to Nikki in person. In the book when he learns the letters were false, he drives to see Nikki and sees her outside with her husband and two young kids (remember, it’s been over four years). Pat sees how happy she is and that is his closure and he is able to let her go. In the book he also has a framed photo of her that he will talk to and in general just seems far more obsessive with what he is doing to try and get Nikki back. He is definitely obsessive in the movie; we just don’t get as many details.
The book also goes in depth to the books he reads from Nikki’s syllabus. The movie only shows one book really, but it is a great scene because he is so upset byt the ending he throws it out the window and then wakes his parents to vent about how this book was so depressing and how could Nikki be teaching this to kids.
This book and movie are both very much about mental illness. The movie is specific about what the characters have been diagnosed with, but I didn’t mind that the book wasn’t specific and instead said it was brain damage. I read that director David O. Russell has a son who is bipolar, so he must have read this book and seen similarities in the Pat in the book and his son who is bipolar and therefore decided to make the movie more personal in that way by having Pat be bipolar. I think it works well for this movie to have Pat have a specific diagnosis like that.
There is the great scene when they are having dinner with Tiffany, Veronica, Ronnie and Pat and Pat and Tiffany start talking about various medication they have been on. In both book and movie, we see characters judging Tiffany about seeing a therapist and Pat stands up for her (and for people who go to therapy in general) by being like, yeah so? I go to therapy too. I love the message about not judging those who need medication, or who go to therapy or who have mental illness.
The scene when Pat is looking for his wedding photo is also a great scene in the movie and shows how someone with bipolar disorder will get a manic episode. We get this in the book as well, where he unintentionally pushes his mom and his dad punches him-but it is started in the book because he has a dream about Kenny G and this put him in an episode. The movie has the song he can’t stand, because it was playing when he found his wife having sex. In the book, it is a Kenny G song so he therefore can’t stand Kenny G and it’ll set him off the way the song sets him off in the movie.
There is a line I loved in the book where Ronnie is telling Pat about Tiffany, just giving the surface facts and Pat thinks, “…but he never once tells me what Tiffany thinks or what is going on in her heart: the awful feelings, the conflicting impulses, the needs, the desperation, everything that makes her different from Ronnie and Veronica, who have each other and their daughter, Emily, and a good income and a house and everything else that keeps people from calling them “odd.””
Another line similar to this is when Pat is thinking about his brother Jake and how Jake can’t relate to what is going on internally with Pat, “But of course I do not say this to Jake, mostly because he has never been locked up and doesn’t understand what it feels like to lose control, and he only wants to watch the football game now, and none of this means anything to him, because he has never been married and he has never lost someone like Nikki and he is not trying to improve his life at all, because he doesn’t ever feel the war that goes on in my chest every single f—–g day— the chemical explosions that light up my skull like the Fourth of July and the awful needs and impulses…”
The relationship Pat has with his dad is very different from book to movie. In the movie, I really liked his dad who seems to want to help Pat. In the book, he was very distant and didn’t even talk to Pat for a long while after he moves back in. They only bond over football, which led to some touching scenes in regards to the Eagles. However, in the end of the book the dad has not improved and we are left wondering if the mom will even stay with him. He seems to take advantage of his wife and doesn’t treat her with respect. He also allows how good or bad the Eagles do, to determine his mood. His dad is shown to have mild OCD in the movie, and in the book, he clearly has issues, but like Pat, the book doesn’t explicitly say what is going on with him. He seems to have a hard time connecting with people though and struggles with anger. Which shows in some ways where Pat gets it from.
His mom in the book is an enabler. Enabling her husband and her son. However, part way through the book she realizes this and stands up for herself and tells them both they need to be more independent and she won’t allow her husband to walk over her anymore. This kind of works, but as said, in the end their relationship is once again rocky.
I liked this mom in both book and movie and we see how stressful this all is on her and how she is doing her best to keep herself, and her family, together.
We see Pat’s brother Jake in the movie, but he was an even bigger character in the book. He and Pat went to every home game and that was a big part of the book. I loved reading about their bond and we see it in the movie, but it just wasn’t as big of a focus.
I loved how with Pat and his mom, is shows how something like this affects the family members. I loved the scenes where Jake is so happy to have his brother back, as well as the mom being on the verge of tears so often because of the emotional strain this has put her through, not to mention also having to deal with her husband. He dealt with it by ignoring it in a way. Though he does have moments where he connects with Pat.
Danny is a friend of Pat’s from the hospital and in the book an annoying thing with Danny is whenever Pat wrote about him, he would say, “my black friend Danny”. He would also say things like, “he scratched his afro”, why not say, “he scratched his head”?? So, it came off as a bit racist or something that the author/Pat felt the need to bring up Danny’s race constantly, it just made him seem like the “token black friend”.
In the movie though, Danny is played by Chris Tucker and he was amazing in this role. The early scenes I especially liked, when they are in group therapy and then later in the car. Tucker was hilarious, while also convincingly playing someone with a mental illness.
Ronnie and Veronica
Ronnie and Veronica are friends with Pat who are very encouraging to him as he recovers. A great scene with them in the book that wasn’t in the movie is when they go to the beach.
Veronica and tiffany are off together, and Ronnie ends up dozing off so Pat takes their toddler into the ocean to “swim” with her. They are having a great time and Pat is so happy and is loving having fun with Emily. When he hears Veronica yelling frantically from the beach telling him to come back. Pat is wondering what’s going on and we see that Veronica doesn’t trust Pat enough to have him take Emily into the water and feels he isn’t stable enough. This is another scene that helps the reader have empathy for Pat and others in his position. Not being trusted and having people say one thing to his face, when clearly, they have other thoughts and feelings they aren’t showing.
In the movie Veronica is played by Julia Stiles, and I thought she was great in this and wished she had been in even more!
Tiffany and Pat
Tiffany is pretty different from book to movie. We already talked about the age difference, but she also talks more in the movie. She was very quiet in the book. The movie shows her following him when he runs, but in the book, this lasted longer where she would follow him and not say anything and he just got used to it. When at some point he confronts her, she says she is scouting him. They also don’t quite hit it off when they meet at Veronica’s. In the movie they talk quite a bit, but in the book neither said much. She does ask him to walk her home in both, and in both she offers to have sex with him and in both he says no I’m married. In the book she then hugs him and starts crying, and he begins crying too. This moment is when they bond. In the movie, she hugs him and cries but he is just awkward and then it’s over. The movie went with the funny route with this scene which works for what the movie is. However, it was a touching scene in the book.
Tiffany in the book was also a very skilled dancer and it was her third year in a row competing at the dance competition. She always did a solo dance because she didn’t have a guy to dance with her. When she meets Pat and sees how fit and strong, he is, she sees he will make a great dance partner because he will be strong enough to do the lifts she has in mind.
Pat does some dancing, but it seems he is mainly there to help lift her and add to the main performance which is her. She tells him that dancing is crying with your body and during the actual performance when she is dancing it is like she is weeping, because it is so powerful. The movie has them compete in a very professional competition (oh and in the book, the other competitors are much younger than them and there is no scoring involved). They have a very unprofessional dance compared to everyone else and I get the movie going this route. One, it’s fun and light and silly; two, the two actors aren’t trained dancers and it would be a lot of work to get Lawrence to the level Tiffany was in the book. The dance also becomes a big part of the movie because it is part of a bet the dad has going and it is the climax of the movie. In the book, the dance happens like at the end of the third quarter, then there is a fair amount that happens after the competition.
Both book and movie have the scene where they go to the diner and order raisin bran. This is a good scene in the movie, but I loved it in the book because Pat was given $40 from his mom to pay for, he and Tiffany’s meal. He is looking at the menu and is stressed he won’t have enough for their meal, even though all the entrées are $10 or less. He is overthinking and so stressed he doesn’t even hear what Tiffany orders. The waitress turns to him and he plays it safe and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu in case she had ordered something expensive. Only to learn all she had ordered was tea. I don’t know if I explained it accurately, but this was just such a great scene. In the movie, he orders the raisin bran so she won’t take the “date” seriously.
I wanted to talk about Tommy, Tiffany’s dead husband. In the movie, they had been married three years and she started to have no interest in sex because he was wanting kids and she wasn’t and it caused a rift between them. He goes out one evening, buys lingerie to get the “magic” back in their sex life, when he helps someone whose car has broken down, only to then be hit by a different car.
In the book, they had been married ten years. Tommy was a great guy; however, he was always wanting sex. She started to think it was too much. After ten years of having sex multiple times a day, she asked if maybe they could lessen it to a few times a week. Tommy is very offended by this and storms off. It is later discovered the same thing happened, he bought lingerie and was hit by a car.
The situation in the movie makes way more sense. I mean, in the book is no one going to acknowledge that Tommy had a problem?? Having sex multiple times a day for ten years?? I mean come on. Who can blame Tiffany for wanting to cut back, and why did Tommy think going out and buying lingerie would help the situation?? That can be applied in both scenarios’ actually. It just seems selfish for the guy to buy lingerie for the women to wear. Like what is he going to do to make it more exciting?? But yeah, her losing interest due to kid’s complications seems much more realistic.
In both, after Tommy’s death she sleeps around a lot as a way to cope with his death.
Another thing, as far as relationships go, I thought the scene was funny in the movie when Pat is talking about his relationship with Nikki wasn’t perfect, but it was good, they just went through the same thing other couples go through. He says, “It’s electric between us! Okay, yeah, we wanna change each other, but that’s normal, couples wanna do that. I want her to stop dressing like she dresses, I want her to stop acting so superior to me, okay? And she wanted me to lose weight and stop my mood swings, which both I’ve done. I mean, people fight. Couples fight. We would fight, we wouldn’t talk for a couple weeks. That’s normal. She always wanted the best for me.”
Which, a lot of that isn’t a healthy normal relationship! He is just in denial.
In both, Tiffany forges the letters from Nikki. However, this isn’t really a big deal I the movie. In the book, everyone is upset at Tiffany over this and it takes time for Pat to come around. In the end of the book, they don’t say I love you, as they do in the movie, but instead say, I need you. I didn’t love this part in the book, but at the same time can appreciate the honesty and the fact that it isn’t your run of the mill romance.
Life is a movie
The movie touches on the fact that Pat thinks his life is a movie, but in the book, this was a bigger thing. He believed in happy endings and finding the silver linings, and therefore believed that he needed to learn enough lessons and improve enough and Nikki would naturally return to him. He felt his life was a movie God was directing. There are a few great passages along these lines I wanted to share from the book.
Pat is thinking about silver linings as he prays, “But I am still glad You took the time to send Jesus to teach us all about miracles, because the possibility of miracles happening keeps a lot of people moving forward down here. I don’t have to tell You that I have been working pretty hard on bettering myself since apart time began. I actually want to thank You for disrupting my life, because I would never have taken the time to improve my character if I did not get sent to the bad place, nor would I have met Cliff, or even Tiffany for that matter, and I know this journey has been for a reason.”
Then later, in a letter from Tiffany it reads, “life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly, like our marriage did, Pat. And literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for people to endure nobly. It sounds like you have endured very nobly since you returned to New Jersey, and I want you to know I admire that. I hope you are able to reinvent yourself and live out the rest of your life with a quiet sense of satisfaction, which is what I have been trying to do since we parted.”
There are so many other changes I didn’t even get into. His therapist is a bigger role in the book and is a great character. His dad was not a bookie, and there was no bet placed on the dance competition. Tiffany had slept around but didn’t always have men hitting on her the way they were in the movie. There was no cop assigned to his case in the book. He also doesn’t come across Danny till the last quarter of the book, when he is mugged in Philly and happens to wind up on Danny’s doorstep. He writes to Nikki asking her to meet him on Christmas and he thinks he will show, which is when Tiffany shows up instead and tells him she forged the letters.
Book vs movie
What’s interesting is how on the surface the book and movie are very similar because it has the same elements and events going on for the most part. But they are very different stories. However, they would both be in the “heartwarming” category and overall, the message is the same.
I went into this movie thinking I would love it and find it even better than the book. In the end, they are pretty comparable. Some things about the book I preferred, but other aspects worked better in the movie. I do like that both are stories about mental illness, but succeed in being more lighthearted, despite having some tense moment.
The romance in the movie is a bigger role, and we get more from Tiffany’s perspective in the movie. The dance scene, while I didn’t absolutely love it, when they cheer after getting a 5.0, I couldn’t help myself and had a grin on my own face in that moment. Nikki showing up to the dance was an interesting choice, but I guess it works. Especially since it has been less than a year. In the book, over 4 years had passed so it just wouldn’t make sense for her to have been there.
I also liked the reveal in the book of the event that took place and how it kept me wondering what went down between them. Whereas in the movie, it gets right to the point.
Ultimately, I enjoyed both. Neither are one I would claim as my new favorite (and has far as David O. Russel goes, this movie has a somewhat similar vibe as I heart Huckabee’s, in some ways, and I love I heart Huckabee’s! Over ten years ago is when I first saw it and I became obsessed with that movie for a while so you should definitely check that one out!)