Saturday, April 5, 2014

Book to film: Silver Linings Playbook

Both the book and film versions of Silver Linings Playbook are great, but the book is better.  The voice of the male protagonist, Pat, nails a particular kind of poignant humor in the book that the movie, with Pat portrayed by Bradley Cooper, does not fully accomplish.  And to be fair, that may be because the movie is limited to two hours, and Pat cannot get as much of his voice in there as in the book.

Pat is a former high school history teacher who has just been let out of a mental institution and released to the care of his mother.  In the movie, he has been there for several months.  In the book, he believes he's only been on the inside for a few months when in fact he has been there for four years.  He plans on reconciling with his estranged wife, Nikki, and devotes his time to trying to become the man she always wanted.  Meanwhile, he's being pursued by a troubled woman named Tiffany.

The selective liberties that the script takes from the novel are basically fine.  In terms of how I saw the characters in my mind's eye, the movie came up short, but one casting choice that ended up fitting was Jennifer Lawrence.  I didn't have trouble buying her as Tiffany for one minute.  Whether you have read the book or not, you will likely agree that she steals the show.

The Silver Linings Playbook is Matthew Quick's debut novel.  His second book, The Good Luck of Right Now, is also good.  It has significant similarities to its predecessor:  a teetering-on-loserdom male protagonist/narrator who tries to make his way in life in the wake of a life-changing development; both female love interests are very emotionally damaged; and the male protagonist's voice displays the same kind of poignant humor.  Going forward, Quick would be wise to distance himself somewhat from that voice so he does not pigeonhole himself as a writer.  Yet this is my only real criticism of his books, both of which are great reads.

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