LinkedinTwitterThe DetailsConnectBlog Facebook Meet the TherapistHome For Writers

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Therapist's Take on Silver Linings Playbook

I saw Silver Linings Playbook over the weekend, and I have to say....this is one movie that gripped me start to finish. Excellent acting and real-to-life portrayal of life with mental illness.

Bradley Cooper astonished me. Until now, I've always thought of him as the quintessential  good-looking romcom actor, but he proved himself with this flick.

Don't read any further if you don't want a few spoilers!

Here is a synopsis if you want to reacquaint yourself with the movie.

The Good

1) Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro blow the acting out of the water. 

All three suffer from significant mental illnesses (Cooper has bipolar, Lawrence is a reformed sex addict with recurring bouts of depression, and DeNiro has a serious gambling problem combined with OCD-like superstition. When they first meet, Cooper and Lawrence share a funny, yet inappropriate, dinner conversation about the types of medications they have taken. Cooper has no filter on what he says, and combined with Lawrence's reckless, brash, and devil-may-care attitude, they make quite the pair.

2) The family dynamics are so true to life of families dealing with mental illness.

Cooper's older brother is the "good" son, the overachiever. He rubs his successes in his brother's face at their very first meeting after Cooper gets out of the mental hospital. Cooper's mother checks him out right after his 8 months is over, against doctor's advice, and brings him home. She enables not only her son's issues, but also her husband's. DeNiro is amazing as the superstitious bookmaking (gambling) father, and he shamelessly feeds his addiction by using his Cooper and putting him situations he's not ready for.

3) There is a great mix of laugh-out-loud and gut-wrenching moments.

The dance competition that Cooper agrees to be a part of with Lawrence is just one of the funniest scenes I've ever witnessed. Their attempt at a "dirty dancing" style life ends with her crotch in his face for several moments. Great big belly laughs! There's also another hysterically dysfunctional scene when DeNiro is negotiating the biggest gamble of his life and the scene is so chaotic and's just something you don't want to miss.

On the other hand, it's so sad to realize that Cooper walked in on his wife, snapped, and nearly killed someone. The song that was playing while his wife had the affair is a constant trigger for him, and he goes into a rage when he hears it. When Cooper goes off his meds, thinking he's doing better, he had a breakdown that wakes up the entire neighborhood. It had me and my therapist friend holding our hands over our mouths, totally wrapped up in the drama.

The Bad

The therapist would lose his license in real life.

Not sure how the the author of the book portrayed the therapist, but in the flick, he behaves unethically. He plays the song that triggers Cooper while he's in the waiting room, an uncontrolled environment. Cooper loses it and scares everyone in the waiting room, and the therapist just says, "I wanted to see if it was still a problem for you." WHAT? If a therapist was going to do something like this, it would be in session where no one would be in harm's way.

The therapist runs into Cooper at an Eagles game and tells him that on that day, they aren't therapist and client, but "brothers." I get that he's referring to rooting for the same side in a sports competition, but you are always in a therapeutic relationship with a matter where you are. You're never friends.

Perhaps the most damning thing he does is go to Cooper's house after they all get arrested at the game for fighting. The therapist is there while the very dysfunctional scene ensues with DeNiro and the gambling, and stands by while his client is placed in a horrible situation as part of a parlay of the bet. He says nothing. He attends the dance competition and gives the whole incredibly unstable betting thing his silent seal of approval. In all honesty, he should lose his license.

Let's Analyze

As you can see, the good far outweighs the bad! Go see this film if you haven't already. If you have seen the film, what did you think of it? Wasn't the acting amazing?