Friday, February 07, 2014

(Spoilers) Silver Linings Playbook: Book vs Movie Differences

***SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers may be found in the post below about VARIOUS ITEMS. And I'm going to add in a bit of filler text here to limit how much of the main article gets shown in a preview. That should take care of most of it. Hopefully. And away we go. SPOILER WARNING. ***

A few times a year, I discover a movie that I just can't get enough of. There's just something about it that causes me to watch it over and over again from start to finish, or just a few particular sections. The latest one that I discovered a few months back was Silver Linings Playbook. Oscar for Best Actress drew me to it and it did not disappoint?

One interesting thing about the movie is that it is a film adaptation of a novel released relatively recently by the same name: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. I won't lie, I googled for comparisons between the movie and the book soon after seeing the movie. Some interesting tidbits were found, but nothing beats reading the book itself and doing one's own comparison. That is specifically what I did to christen a new Kindle E-Reader.

In case you're curious and don't feel like reading a couple hundred page book, I've put together a summary of a few highlights. The book is good and definitely worth a read, so it'd be a good idea to "save" yourself and do your own read-through.

Book vs. Movie
Overall, I would summarize the movie as a condensed version of the book with some of the major events rearranged. The timeline is shortened, some relationships are different, and some revelations and characters don't make an appearance until very late. Having said that, there are a few things in the book that don't show up.

Top 5 Differences
The emphasis below is on what happens in the book with a short tie-in with the movie.

1. Nikki divorces Pat, hooks up with the other guy, and has kids: Tiffany reveals through her letters posing as Nikki that she divorced Pat soon after the incident. He finds out that she's living in their old house with the other guy and two kids. Nikki and Pat never actually make direct contact. This isn't the case in the movie as Nikki meets Pat at the dance, and they should still be technically married.

2. Tiffany fakes multiple letters: Tiffany actually sends Pat a few letters while pretending to be Nikki. Only one is exchanged in the movie as she takes Pat's letter, then types a reply, which Pat discovers, himself, is from Tiffany. It actually gets a bit out of control in the book due to the multiple letters. This all leads up to a meet-up where Tiffany professes her love to him on Christmas, which isn't the ending.

3. Pat doesn't remember what he did to get hospitalized: A major plotline in the novel is that Pat doesn't remember that he walked in on his wife, Nikki, cheating on him, and he viciously assaulted the other man. Up until that point, he believes that they are just spending time apart. This is only revealed near the end, whereas the movie shows that he's fully aware of what happened early on.

4. Pat's been institutionalized for years: Pat doesn't realize it when he's first released, but he's been in the hospital for four or five years in the book. I believe he is only in there for a few months in the movie.

5. The dance is not the ending or even a competition: Everything in the movie leads up to the dance where everything comes together right before the ending. It's just a showcase of talent in the book, and Tiffany makes Pat's participation a condition of her being a medium with Nikki.

Other Interesting Tidbits
- Nikki is much shorter than Pat and a few years older than him. Jennifer Lawrence just had to be 5'9" and 21 when the movie was filmed...

- The jersey Pat's brother gives him is Hank Baskett (#84), not DeSean Jackson (#10).

- Movie takes place in 2006 instead of post or mid Great Recession.

- Pat Peoples, not Pat Solitano. Tiffany Webster, not Tiffany Maxwell.

- The song is Kenny G's "Songbird", not Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour".

- Many of the "inappropriate" things that Bradley Cooper's character blurts out are only thoughts in the book.

Is one better than the other?
Unfortunately, I have to say that I like the movie more. The performances, especially Jennifer Lawrence's, have a lot to do with it. Part of the reason, though, is the difference in tone and emphasis between the book and the movie. Pat's memory loss in the movie is a huge plot point and significantly changes the tone of the story.

One of the major events in the book is when he finds out what happened to get him put away for years. It's tragic that he spends most of the book trying to win back his wife whom he doesn't even know divorced him, married someone else, and had kids. The movie is about him trying to win her back, but there's actually a chance, he has his memory, and knows the score. It's more positive and a nicer silver lining. On the other hand, maybe being spoiled by the movie before reading the book plays a role in this. A first time reader wouldn't know that Pat's running a fool's errand and that it is to end badly, in that department, for him.

There's also the issue with Tiffany's motivations behind her being a "slut". She is explicit about her guilt and desire to use any warm body to feel Tommy again in the book. The movie leaves this a bit more open and rearranges some details with the Victoria Secret run being about a lack of any "activity" rather than too much "activity". I feel for Tiffany significantly more in the movie as her deep personal issues end up contributing to Tommy's death and she knows it. And I see her as using sex to punish herself -- she feels he died because she wouldn't put out, so she's going to do the one thing that got him killed to excess as penance. Jennifer Lawrence's scene where she tells Pat about how Tommy died is one of the best scenes in the movie though -- she is so damn good in it.

So now then...
I found reading the book after seeing the movie absolutely fascinating. It was an absolute pleasure to see how everything fell together, what was similar, what was different, and just what the original writer had in mind. Essentially, I got to explore the origins of the movie, which I love so much. Despite enjoying the movie more, the book is still an excellent read and well worth the time. Give it a shot?

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