Silver Linings Playbook is based on a touchy subject, well that’s what ‘they’ tell us. Director David O. Russell masterfully toed the jagged line of addressing something real without being offensive. The movie has been nominated and won many awards during award season, and deservingly so (Jennifer Lawrence won best performance by an actress in a leading role, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards).
What peaks my interest in the critiques of Silver Linings Playbook isn’t the great reviews and acclaim it’s receiving, because I agree with those sentiments whole-heartedly. My problem is with the stigma that it is based on a touchy subject and it was important for David O. Russell to tread lightly in his depiction of the mentally ill. The movie shows a realistic view of the daily trials and tribulations of those that frequent psychiatric wards. The pain and chaos they can cause their family, community, and most importantly themselves is all caught on film. Honestly even medicated people with psychological disease can be a danger to society and stability is often hard to achieve in such patients. Silver Linings Playbook drags you into the doldrums of mental illness, and flies you up to the highs. The emotional rollercoaster the movie travels through is an efficient depiction of the real valleys and peaks associated with bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and major depression.
Yet just because psychological illness can be dark and emotional for all those involved, doesn’t make it touchy when being uncorked for art; especially when a movie broaching the topic is being reviewed. A movie is art and is to be expressed in what so ever way the artist sees fit. People’s delicate sensibilities should not be put into consideration when trying to make such intricate projects or critiquing them. The thing with movies is, if you don’t find a topic or genre to your liking you can easily abstain from watching. To create something real, something worth watching a movie has to cross that imaginary social comfort line to reach authenticity, to get to the raw nitty-gritty of human behavior and human interaction.
You would think this is a no brainer, but we now live in a world where political correctness, not offending someone and the idea that everything must be fair rule the day. Having a mental illness might not be fair to those affected by it and they might not take it lightly that people are getting entertainment from their plight, but no one seems to be clamoring about how DJango Unchained was on a touchy subject, aside from Spike Lee’s whining. All DJango does, is depict slavery in America as a spaghetti western.
Nothing is fair; life isn’t fair. Art also is not supposed to be fair or biased or subject to feelings. Art is expression and once we limit that subject to society’s feelings, art is soon dead.
“Fair is a place where they judge pigs.”