Mrs. E. Howell
March 24, 2015
Dissonant Harmony over Harmonic Dissonance
Pat Solitano, a young substitute high school history teacher returns home following an argument with the school's principal. Upon returning home, Pat hears his wedding song echoing from upstairs. He climbs the steps to find his wife in the shower with the history teacher from school. In a fit a rage, Pat assaults the man, beating him to the edge of life before stopping. The cause of his anger? An undiagnosed case of bipolar disorder. These events set the stage for David O. Rusell's film, Silver Linings Playbook, where Pat and his family struggle with his recovery after his release from a psychiatric hospital. The film follows Pat as he attempts to reconcile with his estranged wife for whom he still cares deeply. Silver Linings Playbook, like Ibsen's A Doll House, depicts realistic human relationships and their unfoldings. Unlike A Doll House, Russell's film shows the dawning of love between two socially dysfunctional individuals, rather than the death of love in, what was at the time, an ideal marriage. Silver Linings Playbook advocates that romantic success is dictated by the compatibility of two people rather than their striving to attain the same social ideals, as seen in Ibsen's A Doll House.
"Let me tell you something. You don't know anything about my marriage, okay, Dad? All right? Our marriage...we're very, very much in love, okay? Just like you two."(Russell) Pat exclaims to his father shortly after arriving home from the hospital. Pat's obsession with rekindling relations with his wife is his primary motivation for recovering from his violent breakdown, and reintegrating into society. He struggles constantly, to balance his volatile emotions, to repair his social abilities, and to improve his own personal fitness, all of which he believes will help him mend his marriage. Russell uses Pat's constant mood swings, manic episodes, and multiple failings throughout the film to accentuate Pat's multidimensional character. Russell creates in him a fictional character with very realistic and relatable problems, ranging from social awkwardness and attachment issues, to unemployment and emotional instability. On the other hand, Ibsen's Torvald, the main male figure of A Doll House, who 'possessed' at the commencement of the play, an essentially perfect family, was depicted as an almost idealistic man of society. Upon reconnecting with his friend Ronnie, Pat is acquainted with Ronnie's Wife's younger sister, Tiffany. She is an equally multidimensional character in and of herself. Tiffany, who also suffers from mental health issues due to the recent death of her husband, connects quickly with Pat. The two share a mutual dislike of psychiatric drugs, and have both experienced bouts of emotional instability. The likeness between their conditions, coupled with their shared belief that the other's social ineptitude is far greater than that of their own, creates an awkward, but functional chemistry.
TIFFANY. I was very depressed after Tommy died. It was a lot of people.
PAT. We don't have to talk about it.
PAT. How many were there?
TIFFANY. I know.
PAT. I'm not gonna talk about it anymore.
PAT. Can I ask you one more question? Were there any women?
PAT. What was that like?
TIFFANY. Hot. PAT. Jesus Christ.
The failing of the Helmers' marriage however lies in the dissonance between Nora, and Torvald's real characters. Contrary to Silver Linings Playbook, Ibsen's characters are presented as wholly ordinary and even enviable, bordering on the idealistic. Although they are initially presented as largely one-dimensional and undynamic characters, the plot reveals new sides to the characters, drawing out their true personalities, and consequently destroying their marriage.
"Oh, what an awful awakening!
In all these eight…