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Academy Awards 2013: Will Silver Linings Playbook Bring Home the Gold?

“If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”    

It is these words by Henry David Thoreau that led Matthew Quick to finding his silver lining. He repeated these words to his American literature students for years, urging them to pursue careers in the arts. But Quick realized he wasn’t taking his own advice. So, he quit his teaching job, sold his house, and moved into his in-laws’ basement to pursue his dream of working as a full-time novelist. After three unsuccessful novels, Quick decided to expand on an essay he wrote about his father’s obsession with the Eagles. Silver Linings Playbook, Quick’s debut novel, was born (as seen in photo 1).

Silver Linings Playbook delves into the psyche of Pat Peoples, a man in his thirties struggling with severe mental health issues. He lives in a delusional world, concocting altered realities when he cannot deal with actuality. Finding silver linings is what keeps Pat pushing toward recovery.

Quick’s novel allows readers to see a humanistic side of mental health through Pat’s relationships, his eclectic interests, and his optimistic outlook on life. Quick makes a point not to label Pat with a particular diagnosis in order to show that we all struggle with mental health issues. Everyone is touched by anxiety, depression, altering moods— whether it be their own or via someone close to them.

Although Quick fans may be surprised that the movie version of SLP alters the original story—including a subplot that is not in the novel—they will appreciate writer/director David O. Russell’s interpretation. The film explores a visual representation of Pat’s mentality (as seen in photo 2). Unconventional camera angles, rapid zooms, and shaky shots place audience members in Pat’s volatility as he navigates the world around him.

Outstanding performances by Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver masterfully weave the tension, ugliness and beauty between characters. Russell’s ending is different from Quick’s, though it is equally satisfying. It creates a third level to the story—crowd participation—widening Pat’s mental health support network as gasps, tears and cheers explode throughout the theater.  “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Known for “The Fighter” (2010), “I Heart Huckabees” (2004) and “Flirting With Disaster” (1996), Russell explores the idiosyncratic side of relationships in his films. His adaptation of Quick’s novel makes SLP his own, further solidifying how distinctive mental health is conveyed through individual experiences.

What makes the plot of SLP so compelling is its messiness. Just like real life, there are no “normal” characters and no neatly bow-tied endings. It is brutal and honest, yet compassionate and illuminating—a reminder that silver linings are formed amidst dark clouds. They provide optimism, not solution, in difficult times. Readers and moviegoers alike will cry, applaud, and empathize with Silver Linings Playbook.

And the award goes to…

“Silver Linings Playbook” is headed to the Oscars (as seen in photo 3). The competition is aggressive this year and includes “Argo,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” and “Life of Pi.” “Silver Linings Playbook” has been nominated for eight academy awards in the following categories: 

Best Picture (Donna Gigliotta, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers)

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper)

Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Lawrence)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jacki Weaver)

Best Directing (David O. Russell)

Best Film Editing (Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers)

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (David O. Russell)

Does “Silver Linings Playbook” have what it takes to bring home the gold in all eight categories? Be sure to tune in to ABC to watch the Oscars live at 7e/4p on Sunday, February 24, 2013 and root for SLP—“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

For a full listing of Academy Award winners throughout the years, visit the official Oscars Website.

For more information about Matthew Quick, including his novels and appearances, check out his website at: Matthew Quick Writer.

For more information about “Silver Linings Playbook,” including theater show times and DVD release date, check out International Movie Database.

All photos courtesy of Google Images