I shouldn’t have liked this movie. It seems like it was created specifically to cater to women’s silly, romantic sensibilities just as much as typical romantic comedies do–maybe even more so because it presented itself as a quirky, “different” kind of movie and so it wasn’t immediately obvious (or maybe I just assumed that because it’s from the Tribeca Film Festival, which I’ve never actually attended).
The main idea of the plot for the main character is (SPOILER ALERT! But then you probably weren’t going to watch this movie if you haven’t already, right?) that she’s looking for that one person who can make her happy. I don’t even want to go into the multiple ways this annoys me. So I won’t. Or just a little. Put aside, first of all, the fact that I don’t think there IS just one person for anyone, and the fact that math supports this view (though it being math means I can’t explain it to you or even really understand it). Even if it were true, that there’s only one person meant for you, is it really smart to be perpetuating the idea that this one person is the one who can make you happy? That a person can make you happy? I mean, why is that even something anybody would want? Sure, in a romantic comedy, because everything up until then has been full of probably crass jokes, possibly toilet humor, and definitely ditzy friends and jerky ex-boyfriends. But in real life? (Or an indie movie?) How is that desirable?
One thing that really annoyed me about Silver Linings Playbook that I was too busy talking about crazy people to address before is the climactic scene (SPOILER ALERT! But then if you saw the clip at the Oscars you had the entire film ruined for you already, right?). It’s the typical girl is devastated, thinks her man doesn’t love her, worries she will be alone forever, and cries outside set-up. She’s absolutely heartbroken, and you, as a female audience member, know exactly how she feels. You’ve been in this situation. You understand just how ridiculous it is to feel like your whole world is collapsing simply because a guy who turned out not to be the right guy for you doesn’t want you, and yet, you can’t stop it. You can’t stop the tears, the sobs, the painful choking on breath that is required in a dramatic movie scene but is nothing but absurd anywhere else.
So yes, we could live vicariously through the character in SLP for a moment…until the moment where the guy chases the girl. At that moment, you know it’s all fake because this doesn’t happen for real. No matter how much you enjoyed the movie up until this point, during this minute you sigh and go back to admitting this is only make believe. You can’t really get lost in it because you’re too annoyed that such a “perfect” moment could never happen to you.
And that’s where it’s messed up. Why is this moment “perfect” to you (to me, to women everywhere)? Can’t we recognize the mere fact that we’re even feeling this much pain over some guy in the first place means he can’t possibly be the right guy? Don’t we know, even as we’re sobbing and straining to capture air into our lungs, that we’ll eventually feel better, and we’ll go on and feel just as horrible some other time about some other man? Can’t we see no “love” is worth this struggle?
The Giant Mechanical Man had a similar “we must necessarily be in a situation where it seems hopeless before we can find our happy ending” scenario. But when the big misunderstanding was eventually cleared up, I was a little disappointed. For once I wanted to see a character experience that horrible mixture of feeling both desperately hopeful and tragically disappointed without an eventual resolution. I wanted there not to be an easy explanation to get them back together. When the guy didn’t show up for the date, I wanted neither of them to ever call each other and both of them to just go on with their lives. I hoped the girl would be angry with the guy for letting her down instead of instantly forgiving him. I wished he wouldn’t have given the girl a second chance when he mistakenly thought she’d done something wrong. I wanted a little reality.
Which, yeah, was my own fault for expecting that from a movie. It seems I have a problem with unrealistic expectations both from movies and in life. At least I’m consistent.