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Silver Linings Playbook May 2, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Health & Wellness.

On Tuesday night, we watched Silver Linings Playbook.

In it, a just released mental patient is reading through novels discussed in the HS English class his estranged wife teaches.

When Pat finishes Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, he throws it out the window in disgust and wakes his parents to express outrage that so many “must reads” have twisted unhappy endings instead of “silver linings.”  I share his wrath.

Here’s to finding silver linings in the midst of cloudy days, to being better (not bitter), and to living happily-ever-after on a moment by moment basis.

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. Judson - May 2, 2013

I find that it is a very rare work of literary/cinematic fiction that has a really great happy ending. Among exceptions that I found particularly uplifting were “Forrest Gump” and “Field of Dreams”

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

This movie has a happy ending ~ a true Silver Lining. Yay!

I know what you mean. Resolutions reached in fiction are often chosen from among several bad options. Maybe that’s because writers, as a whole, are NOT a bunch of happy campers. 😉

2. Pix Under the Oaks - May 2, 2013

Adding it to the queue!
Good Morning Nancy!

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

This is a very interesting look at mental illness . . . everyone in the movie is C~R~A~Z~Y! Including the guy down the block who keeps showing up at odd hours to request an interview for his school newspaper. :mrgreen:

3. Andra Watkins - May 2, 2013

I really like a good twist ending, even if it isn’t happy. What’s most important to me is that a movie or book or play make me feel. I did enjoy this movie. I’d like to read the book, because I suspect the relationship between father and son is a lot richer in the book. That was the part of the movie that really interested me.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Once I realized the movie was *winking* at us, reminding us not to take ourselves or life too seriously, I really enjoyed it.

I mean, who orders Raisin Bran on a first date? 😉

4. William D'Andrea - May 2, 2013

Whoever wrote what you were watching should get his facts straight. “Grapes of Wrath” was written by John Steinbeck, not Ernest Hemingway.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Oops, mea culpa. 😳 It was A Farewell to Arms, not Grapes of Wrath. All fixed.

5. colonialist - May 2, 2013

I agree with him. I mean, we know that the choice of happy or sad ending depends on where you stop. So why not stop on the happy one?
I will admit, though, that a picture which has really stuck in my mind was one where it seemed quite clear an unhappy ending was inevitable, and the menace simply kept building – and then it turned round, very convincingly, to a lovely ending.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

That’s the point Pat makes after finishing A Farewell to Arms ~ that Hemingway could have stopped the book once the lovers were reunited and “HAPPY” reigned. He could have ended on a HIGH note.

And he didn’t. Hemingway kept writing until their lives fell apart again. And that pissed Pat off. Not just that Hemingway wrote it, but that it’s STILL being taught in HS English classes. I feel the same.

Life is hard. When I read, I want HAPPY ENDINGS! :mrgreen:

colonialist - May 2, 2013

There seems to be a coviction that if a book has a happy conclusion it can’t be regarded as ‘serious’ literature. What utter bunkum, piffle and poppycock!
Even a story that ends in pathos or a great tragedy has a place – people enjoy a good weep. But those which exit in utter senselessness and hopelessness should have been binned at birth.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

I agree with you, Col. There is a prejudice against viewing books with happy endings as “serious” literature.

As you said so well, “What utter bunkum, piffle and poppycock!” :mrgreen:

6. countingducks - May 2, 2013

I have to say I saw the film and really enjoyed it. As for Hemingway, he has a big enough ego to survive the odd journey through a pane of glass

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Thanks, countingducks. This is a FUN look at serious issues. What a great cast to move the movie along.

As for Hemingway, I agree. I wonder how many readers use A Farewell to Arms as a drink coaster . . . without even worrying about the water marks. 😉

7. William D'Andrea - May 2, 2013

You write about prefering happy endings. What I think is that whether it’s happy or sad, I prefer a good ending. Last Sunday on PBS, I watched a Live From Lincoln Center perfromance of Rodgers and Hammersteins’ “Carosel”. Even though the ending was tragic, I was thoroughly entertained; and the play has a very positive message.
The song “When You Walk Through a Storm” is not only excellent from a musical viewpoint, the lyrics are worth keeping in mind.
The show is also fun. I still can’t get the melodies of the “Overture”, “If I Loved You”, and “June is Busting Out All Over” out of my mind.
My only objection is that they just don’t write them this good any longer.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Glad you enjoyed Carousel, William. I watched it last year (along with State Fair, Sound of Music, South Pacific, The King & I, and one other). Of the 6 R&H musicals . . . the Sound of Music remains my favorite.

8. timethief - May 2, 2013

I am a happy endings person, provided the movie/book isn’t frivolous and contrived but has substance, a strong plot and convincing actors. This one surely has those qualities. I liked watching the trailer and now I can’t wait to see the movie.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

This movie definitely has a silver lining. Enjoy!

9. Perfecting Motherhood - May 2, 2013

Wait, I have several friends who saw this movie and said it was very depressing. Did they completely miss the point?

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

It’s odd, quirky, bizarre, unique . . . but I wouldn’t say depressing.

Perfecting Motherhood - May 2, 2013

Oh, then maybe I’ll watch it after all. I can’t stand Hemingway’s writing so I’ll have to agree with Bradley Cooper’s character. There’s a reason why Hemingway killed himself. He was an unhappy guy for a very long time… Did you read The Old Man and the Sea? That’s a few hours of my life I’ll never get back.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

I never finished The Old Man and The Sea ~ book or movie. It seemed DULL. Like being cornered at a cocktail party by someone who just wants to say something even though they have nothing much to say. 😛

10. Perfecting Motherhood - May 2, 2013

Oh, by the way, I just saw this and I thought maybe you want to share this opportunity with your readers. It’s pretty neat, if you like to write haiku poems.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Thanks, Milka. I loved the sample haiku:

Mars, you planet red
No life, just craters and ice
Dark, dark, dark, dark, goose

This is obviously the safest way to enter the space race . . . by sending your poetry out there, while staying on Planet Earth.

Perfecting Motherhood - May 2, 2013

I sure wouldn’t want to be the one in that capsule!

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

At one point, I might have been willing to climb into a spacesuit and rocket out of orbit. These days, not so much.

I do plan to share the link tomorrow, Milka. It seems like a FUN contest.

11. spilledinkguy - May 2, 2013

Hahaha… this reminds me of how Annabelle often responds to ‘less than cheerful endings’ to books / movies, etc…
‘I thought I liked it, but after that ending…’

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Yes! I agree with Annabelle. I often peek at book endings (when I’m only 1-2 chapters into the book) to make sure that ALL major characters are present and accounted for and none have fallen permanently by the wayside.

I feel disgruntled if I’m rolling with the punches only to have someone knocked down for the count. OUCH!

spilledinkguy - May 2, 2013

She does that, too! I’ll tease her about it. 🙂

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

I expect that Annabelle and I would get along famously! She obviously has stellar taste, right? She chose YOU! 😎

12. Booksphotographsandartwork - May 2, 2013

Maybe A Farewell to Arms shouldn’t be taught at the high school level. Sounds like it is too upsetting. It took me awhile to get into this movie because they were all so strange. It helped that I was looking at Bradley Cooper though. The ending was sooooooooo great!!!!

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Yes! Bradley Cooper was the RIGHT choice for the lead. :mrgreen:

All the characters are a bit “quirky.” 😛 The father with his gambling superstitions. The boy down the street showing up at odd hours to do an interview about mental health. The bright young man who kept checking himself out of the hospital prematurely. Etc. I LOVED the ending.

13. kateshrewsday - May 2, 2013

Amen. I read for escape,not reality. Although, come to think of it, some of my escape reads are a bit horrific; ghosty stories, The Woman in Black. Perhaps sometimes they are so far away from reality that even dark endings work.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

I used to read lots of ghostly ghastly stories. I do think a different standard applies as to what a “happy ending” might entail. After all, the goal is to knock our socks off, eh? 😯

14. Sandra Bell Kirchman - May 2, 2013

It doesn’t hurt that I love Jennifer Lawrence and thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games. I look forward to watching this movie.

I have always hated unhappy endings and was told I wasn’t cultured because unhappy endings were very literary. I became known in my-then writer’s circle as the happy writer, and it wasn’t necessarily a compliment. This is so refreshing, and, understandably, I feel somewhat vindicated.

Thanks for posting this, Nancy. You often pinpoint what I seem to need to hear/read.

nrhatch - May 2, 2013

Thanks, Sandra. I hope you enjoy the movie . . . it’s definitely quirky, but also thought provoking.

I expect that unhappy endings are viewed as more “literary” because Art = Suffering. But maybe Art = Suffering because too many writers have penned unhappy endings?

One reason that I love Dickens’ A Christmas Carol so much is because of its happy ending. To me, happy endings are the best way to reward readers for joining us on the journey.

15. diannegray - May 3, 2013

This sounds like a great movie, Nancy. I’m looking forward to watching it. I’ve heard some excellent reviews 😀

nrhatch - May 3, 2013

It’s a close up encounter with quirky folks . . . with lots to think about. I might even watch it again in a month or two, something I rarely do these days.

16. pix & kardz - May 3, 2013

i am for happy endings, too. especially when it comes to fiction, where the author has the option of creating any number of possible endings. so kudos to authors who see silver linings and who invite readers to look for the same, imnasho! 🙂

nrhatch - May 3, 2013

Exactly. If it’s a “true story,” then a sad ending may be part of the tale, but if it’s fiction . . . I prefer to end on a HIGH note.

17. Three Well Beings - May 3, 2013

This is next up in our Netflix queue. I am really looking forward to seeing it. From the beginning the storyline appealed to me. I also prefer a happy ending, although a storyline is good when we get to see the struggle for that happiness, I think. From what I know, that’s a major piece of the movie. Good review, Nancy!

nrhatch - May 3, 2013

Yes. Happiness means more when we must “work” for it ~ if a story is smooth sailing from first to last, with no storms raging, it seems a bit pointless and we wonder why it was transcribed.

18. Tammy - May 3, 2013

I haven’t seen it yet but yes, a sucker for happy endings. Although, Life is Beautiful is a hard ending. American Beauty is a twisted ending. The Usual Suspects – hmm need to watch it again. Since these are my favorite films, maybe I don’t need gooey happy endings.

nrhatch - May 3, 2013

I don’t need gooey happy endings in movies either ~ probably because watching a film is only a 90 minute to 2 hour time investment. I can think of any number of “interesting” endings that have satisfied me after munching on popcorn.

But when I read a book for 8-10 hours, I want a REWARD. :mrgreen:

nrhatch - May 3, 2013

And you picked 3 great films as examples ~ Kevin Spacey makes Usual Suspects a stellar view. (He does the same in K-Pax.) Life is Beautiful is hard, but worth watching.

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