I loved Silver Linings Playbook, but then obviously a lot of people did since it made its way to the Oscars this year among the heavy weights like Argo, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln and the works. And I have been sitting on it for weeks to figure out exactly what I wanted to say about the Rom-Com (as New Yorker and NYT claim it is) that had the Oscars not only take notice, but also let Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger games fame) walk away with one. Right after, I also watched Lawrence’s tripping-on-her-Dior-dress videos followed by her interview to the media where she had them in splits with her ‘whatever’-ish take on everything still hung-over from her character Tiffany- the reason for her big win that night. And to me, it all somehow fit together, David Russell’s crazy narrative of a bipolar Bradley Cooper, depressive Lawrence in a world of dysfunctional relationships (which apparently is David Russell’s old game) and Lawrence’s demeanor at the Oscars. And though, I generally pride myself for steering clear from ‘Rom-Coms’ that Hollywood churns out along with all the great stuff it produces each year, I knew I needed to put Silver Linings Playbook in a genre less likely to be written-off at face value.(since i actually watched it twice)
Recently I came across this blog in the Washington post, that seem to answer some of my questions both about the movie and Lawrence, perfectly titled ‘Imperfectionism- Why the cult of Jennifer Lawrence Matters’, where the author talks about the solace most of us find not in the proper lady-like but alienating behavior of say an Anne Hathway (though I love her) but someone as improper or real as Jennifer Lawrence.
In a way, this also points to reasons why some of the movies in the genre have stood out and become great successes in their narrative of the imperfect, manic, crazy without the need to reconcile it with the ‘normal’ as we know it. Rom-Com as a genre, has broken so many boundaries, spread its parameters so broad that it is begging to be re-defined or being obsolete altogether. Not about pretty/perfect people just waiting for destiny to match them together. It is no longer just the story of overcoming class barriers a.k.a Pretty Woman or Notebook. Or a narrative of commitment-phobic singles as in Breakfast At Tiffany’s and a million other movies. It has come to include stories from a world, closer to us than we are comfortable with and where romance is unromantic, sloppy and sometimes unnecessary. As Good As It Gets (Remember the Jack Nicholson-Helen Hunt starrer from 1997), according to me is the front-runner of this alt-genre, which also won Hunt her first ever Oscar. If you recall, it the story of an obsessive compulsive author (Nicholson) past his forties and a waitress and single-mom (hunt) in an unlikely, mother-of-all-awkward pairings and yet the movie wins me over every single time. And very recently in a similar vein, ‘500 days of Summer ‘ opens with the self-confession – ‘This is not a love story’ before it plays out for the next 95 minutes to say exactly why. And no post on movies is ever complete without the mention of my all-time favorite – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which created a different genre for itself in its romance meets science fiction in the story of a unstable Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Melancholic Joel (Jim Carrey). Of course there is a happy ending and all that or an inkling of it, the trademark of the Rom-Com cult, but then after the glimpses of the imperfect world in which these characters are set, endings don’t necessarily mean a happily ever after.
What makes these movies so watchable and layered to me is this quality of the non-romance or as the article above suggests, a solace for the imperfect, the silver lining in the randomness.
I am signing off with my favorite scene from Silver Linings Playbook, that kind of sums up the movie and this post for me. The scene from the diner:
“Tiffany: Why did you order Raisin Bran?
Pat: Why did you order tea?
Tiffany: Because you ordered Raisin Bran.
Pat: I ordered Raisin Bran because I didn’t want any mistaking it for a date.
Tiffany: It can still be a date if you order Raisin Bran.
Pat: It’s not a date…” – — Silver Linings Playbook