Reel Caregiving: Glimpses of Caregiving – Silver Linings Playbook

The story of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ tracks the feverish, happy, sad, absurdly funny ups and downs of a head case named Pat Solatano, just as he returns to his parents’ home after eight months in a mental institution. Pat tries to deal with his bipolar disorder, and the audience is privy to the effects of the disease. Pat also ends up in a strange relationship with Tiffany, who also suffers from depression.

Unconventional Caregivers in Pat Solatano’s life:

The most truthful aspect of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is that it shows how much Pat is not a solitary sufferer but a man embedded in a web of relationships (romantic and familial) that offer the possibility of recovery and growth. And he is surrounded by more of the same: family and friends who are odd and obsessive themselves, but also warm and forgiving and unembarrassed by eccentricity.

The other people in Pat’s life are also captured with warmth and acuity. His brother and his best friend act awkwardly around him, apologizing cravenly for failing to visit him in hospital. His father, Pat Senior, shares his history of violent behavior, has an assortment of minor compulsions and superstitions and blames himself for Pat’s predicament.

His mother looks stricken with anxiety but helps to engineer his budding romance. Tiffany pushes him away and pulls him in with savage need. His therapist is down-to-earth and practical, a man who can wear face-paint to the football, not the all-knowing oracle as depicted in many movies.

The film presents bipolar disorder deftly and accurately. The importance of relationships for recovery is well established. By the end of the film, Pat finds a sense of belonging in the warm embrace of his family and his new love. For others, it’s necessary to escape the structures of home and family and strike out on a journey of self-discovery

Contributed by Sandra Napier

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