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Cannon: In constant search of silver linings

Published February 15, 2013 2:25 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Let me just say this right upfront. I am going to write about the Academy Award-nominated movie "Silver Linings Playbook," and I am going to — SPOILER ALERT — give away the ending. So stop reading this column right now if you're uncomfortable with any of that.

OK. My husband and I finally saw this movie last weekend, which means we have now seen two Oscar-nominated movies for best picture. This is pretty good for us, actually. There was a day when we saw everything, but having five boys who played soccer and baseball (sometimes we had 15 games a week to attend) got in the way, and eventually we just stopped going to the movies. You get to the point where you simply cannot stand to leave. Your. House. One. More. Time.

Not even for buttered popcorn.

But the kids are gone now and we're slowly getting back into the swing of nonkid things. And I especially wanted to see "Silver Linings Playbook," because it deals with subjects I'm interested in. Families. Bradley Cooper. Mental illness and the impact it has on families. Bradley Cooper. Football. Bradley Cooper. In particular the Philadelphia Eagles football.

Also, Bradley Cooper.

Anyway. I liked the movie. How much did I like it? Oh, let me count the ways. For starters, I just loved the way the movie looked. Real, somehow. Scruffy around the edges, not unlike the blue-collar neighborhood Pat (Bradley Cooper) Solitano lives in with his parents.

I liked the characters, too. The deeply flawed father who, nonetheless, wants to do right by his family. The mother who finds herself caught in the middle of a husband and son's complicated relationship and who tries to make things all better with Crabby Snacks. The friend (I love you, Chris Tucker!) who keeps showing up when he's supposed to be in a mental institution in Baltimore. The serene psychiatrist who is also a rabid Eagles fan. The love interest with huge issues of her own. (In an early exchange, Pat says to Tiffany: "You have poor social skills. You have a problem.")

There are tiny touches to savor throughout this movie — the way Pat (see above) identifies other people's problems for them. The way he runs draped in a garbage sack around the neighborhood so he'll sweat more. The way Pat and Tiffany connect when they first meet by comparing which medications they've taken and how bad those meds made them feel. The way love and desperation flicker in equal measure across the faces of family members who try hard to understand.

One of my favorite scenes comes early in the movie when Pat wakes up his parents to complain about the ending of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. You think everything is going to be OK, he wails, and then Catherine Barkley DIES. (Oops. I apologize to those of you who haven't read A Farewell to Arms. I see now I should have included another SPOILER ALERT.) (But it's true. Catherine Barkley does die.)

What Pat wants is a silver lining to life's hardships. He wants a happy ending.

And so do I.

When I was younger I loved stories with tragic endings. Drama, drama, drama. Romeo and Juliet dead in each other's arms. That sort of thing. But I've changed. These days I want tough-minded books and movies that end well — precisely because I'm old enough now to know that real life often doesn't. So I applaud the artist who's brave enough to say, "I know. But still. Don't be afraid to hope."

Which is how "Silver Linings Playbook" ends — along with Pat's final observation: "The world will break your heart 10 ways to Sunday. That's guaranteed. And I can't begin to explain that, or the craziness inside myself and everybody else, but guess what? Sunday is my favorite day again. I think of everything everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy."

Yup. I vote for silver linings every single time.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.