Why I Wasn’t a Fan of Silver Linings Playbook

SPOILER ALERT – reading this may give away parts of this movie.

So I saw this movie in the theaters and wasn’t so much a fan of it.  Okay, sure, I found it to be an entertaining movie.  I laughed at times.  I heart Jennifer Lawrence so it was fun to see her in another movie.

But.  I was also super frustrated and at times angry while watching the movie.  I mean, the story (movie) is about a dude, Pat, whose wife has a restraining order on him after he badly assaults the guy she’s sleeping with.  And he chooses to break this restraining order.

Let me stop right there.  I know some people may think ‘Okay yeah, it’s never okay to savagely beat up another person, that was out of line.  But.  She was cheating on him.  I mean he’s going to be angry.’

To me, though, the story sounds like the batterer’s side of an abusive situation.  Batterers often use their partners’ (often fabricated) infidelity to justify their control and/or violence over/towards their partners.  They neglect to leave out that – ooops, they made the whole thing up and their partner wasn’t actually cheating on them.  Or okay, she was cheating BUT only after years of being abused and feeling like she has been unable to leave the
relationship.

So like I said, in the movie Pat violates the restraining order.  To my knowledge, nice, respectful guys don’t decide they have the right to violate a restraining order.  Oh wait, I mean to my knowledge, nice, respectful guys don’t do things that could result in a restraining order being put on them in the first place.  No, batterers are the ones who make choices about their behavior and that behavior could be grounds for a restraining order.  And sometimes they decide they are entitled to break this order.  And then they make excuses:  They really love their partners… Or their partners need to hear what they have to say…  Or their partners can’t just leave them and put a restraining order on them and get away with it!

Plus there was the whole thing about Pat having bipolar disorder.  Now, I have decent knowledge of bipolar disorder.  But I am, by no means, an expert.  However, the manic episodes his character had seemed a bit off to me.  I mean, he was at school, teaching students, and thus, likely not manic, and then he went home, supposedly caught his wife cheating on him and went into a violentally manic episode.  Really?!  In fact, it often seemed that his manic episodes would surface suddenly and vanish 30 minutes later as quickly as they’d begun.  Now, I’m no expert on bipolar but a half hour manic episode?  That just doesn’t sound right to me.  So I actually just looked it up on The National Institute of Mental Health and it’s a little unclear how brief a manic episode, or depressive episode, can be.  But it looks like they typically last a week and I didn’t read anything that would indicate episodes can last for just an hour or less.

It’s a common misconception that batterers actually have bipolar disorder.  Because they can be impulsive.  Because they can act one way one moment and another the next.  But if you look how quickly they change their personalities, you realize these aren’t signs of bipolar disorder.  These are signs of a controlling, abusive person.

So to me, the end was devastatingly misleading.  I won’t say exactly what happens – if he ends up with his wife again or not.  But to me, it’s implied that Pat is this great, but troubled, guy and his relationship(s) will be just fine.  They all live happily ever after.  But I see a different story.  One where the partner is tricked and ends up being controlled.

Jennifer Lawrence Walk About at the TIFF

Jennifer Lawrence Walk About at the TIFF (Photo credit: b.m.a.n.)

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