Silver Linings Playbook’s Aggravating Change from Book to Film

After reading Silver Linings Playbook over the course of three lazy days this week, I thought I may as well make the most of the film adaptation on Sky Store. However, I’ve been left wishing I hadn’t, and you can read below what annoyed me about it.

  • Pat’s Dad should barely talk to him for ages, but Robert DeNiro is chatting to him and getting involved as soon as he returns home and then throughout the movie. This alters the effect of the fragmented family and theme of communication.
  • Pat is supposed to have repressed the incident that put him in the hospital in the first place, but in the film he talks about it in his very first therapy session with Cliff and can even remember an episode from the week before the incident that never happens in the book. This inevitably changes the progression of his recovery and return to normal life.
  • In the book, Pat begins working out in his basement gym as soon as he gets home from the hospital, and this becomes the most important thing to him other than Nikki; in the film he still runs and reads, but there is no mention of the hours each day he should spend in his gym.
  • There is an added event of Pat going back and talking to a teacher at the school where he worked as well as a mental health interviewer visiting his house- why? The mental health theme was strong and poignant enough without this.
  • Pat and Tiffany are much too animated and talkative at the first dinner at Ronnie and Veronica’s house; it changes the whole beginning of their relationship. Tiffany is also much too talkative when Pat is running. I understand that more talking is necessary because otherwise Pat may have to narrate his thoughts, but it changes the tone of their relationship completely.
  • I am unsure if the introduction of the police officer assigned to Pat’s case who keeps turning up was necessary- he doesn’t particularly add anything and just breaks up the some pivotal arguments.
  • Even the time of year is altered- why? The realignment of Christmas is irrelevant in the film.
  • So much of the plot is changed that it barely feels the same, including Danny’s whole narrative.
  • Jake is only just getting engaged, which reduces the brotherly bond that needs to be overcome and renewed when Pat finds out about Jake’s wife and meets her for the first time.
  • After all the mentions of Kenny G in the book, Pat’s trigger song in the film is not Kenny G but Stevie Wonder’s ‘My Cherie Amour’! Could it just be because more people will recognise it? It just seems like they tried too hard to make the film more commercial with a better known song and also like their own version of the story.
  • Who is this Randy guy who’s around all the time?
  • This is where I give up pointing out everything that’s different, it’s getting too aggravating.
  • Why is Nikki at the dance?!? I wash my hands of this. It gets even worse but I will avoid spoilers by leaving it there.

Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook

The only good things about this film are the acting and characterisation:

  • Bradley Cooper’s delivery of Pat’s blunt and antisocial questions and responses to things are truly a delight to watch.
  • The film is in its own way (completely separately to the book) very tense to watch- this is a credit to the whole cast who deal with all the shouting and emotional turmoil very well; I even now understand why Jennifer Lawrence got her Oscar. Pat’s parents’ marital problems aren’t there, but there is other extra tension created with Randy and with Tiffany entering Pat’s house and being more involved with his parents.

After all the hype and Oscars recognition I thought that the film was going to be clever and loyal but everything just feels wrong. If you haven’t read the book, this is a well made film with excellent acting and compelling and emotional characters, but it feels like such a totally different story that I couldn’t enjoy it like I hoped to. The two need to be considered completely separately or you may be filled with too many conflicting emotions.

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3 thoughts on “Silver Linings Playbook’s Aggravating Change from Book to Film

  1. indytony May 22, 2013 / 10:13 PM

    While I have not read the book yet, the blog posts I’m reading today (such as yours) lead me to believe the book is much better than the movie.

    I just saw “Silver Linings Playbook” yesterday and thought it was a fantastic film that simply went terribly wrong in the end. As someone with Bipolar, I’m looking to build a dialogue about it. As you have the chance, I’d love for you to read and respond to my review, here –

    http://writingforfoodinindy.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/the-hollywood-silver-linings-playbook-fake-right-go-wrong/

    Thanks for your helpful review.

    • charlottetobitt May 22, 2013 / 11:32 PM

      I’ll definitely check yours out. Thanks for reading, it’s good to hear what others think and if you think the film is fantastic (until the end) you should definitely give the book a go!

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