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Past Thoughts

Friday, 9 August 2013

I can't think of a title besides "More SLP Worship"

I have expressed my love for The Silver Lining's Playbook multiple times but I had not read the novel it was based on until... well, just now. It's still pretty fresh in the noggin and right afterwards I saw the movie again and suddenly felt compelled to write about it, whatever sue me.

When the credits said "based on the novel" they really do mean loosely based on because aside from the characters and general plotlines in both stories, they had little in common. The movie doesn't strive to replicate the book and instead sought to give off the same essence by recreating it in a whole different medium through a whole different viewpoint. And I appreciate that it did just that because the book was filled with so much silence: first person narration, letters, actual silence, all that jazz which made the book what it was but imagine going to see a movie with that much silence (I did once, it was called To the Wonder...) and people will shit all over it and condemn it for being pretentious. But personally because the exchanges Pat and Tiffany have in the movie are the main highlight for me and these exchanges hardly existed in the book. It might be more loyal to the source material to keep all that silence and tension, it might be poignant, it might even be more realistic given the nature of each of the characters (several of whom are very different from those of the movie) but it won't be as entertaining. Or rather that it would be so difficult to try to recreate the kind of information the narration provides in movie form without committing the sin of telling instead of showing. The movie manages to translate Pat's internal turmoil by having Bradley Cooper's character blatantly saying the things he thinks of but this meant making a different character from the Pat in the book who refrains from saying those things out loud because he is trying to be kind rather than being right, a goal he reminds himself and the viewers over and over until around the end of the second act.

The book and the movie honestly felt to me like those writing exercises in high school where the whole class is given a few paragraphs or pages of introduction and everyone is made to continue off of it and write their own version of the story. And at the end of the class you hear everybody's stories and find out just how different everyone's stories were which was always a fascinating experience. I remember reading somewhere about how no two people ever read the same book and this was like my favourite example of that because it felt like both Quick and O. Russell were given this set of characters and themes, and they brought us to their own different places with their interpretations.

The tone of the book was much more grave but aside from the fact that Tiffany chose Total Eclipse of the Heart to dance to (which is a lovely and fitting song that I really shouldn't laugh at but it's so hard to take it seriously after F.A.Q. About Time Travel), it also had one line from the dance competition that really made me laugh:

"Even though we will most likely not win the audience’s loudest applause—especially after Chelsea Chen obviously brought every single one of her family members to the performance—I begin to think we will win anyway."

Keeping in mind that Chelsea Chen along with the rest of the contestants in the dance are teenage girls and here's this grown ass man wearing nothing but bright yellow tights saying that Chelsea Chen couldn't possibly have just been really amazing with her ballet routine!

Anyway, it was a great read and possibly the only instance where I actually liked the movie better than the book. The movie had superb acting, more back story and context for the secondary characters, brilliant music, and really pretty imagery, which showed that they really utilised the aspects in which cinema excels over literature. That's not to say the book wasn't great, if anything it represented the two spectrum of bipolarity, and the negative stigma society has on mental illnesses better than the film did. Plus I liked the book's ending much better but I don't see how they could have managed to do that in the film without adding another 30-45 minutes and who really wants to see a 3 hour romcom? (This guy!)

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