' ' Cinema Romantico: Finding My Own Silver Lining

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Finding My Own Silver Lining

My advance apologies, but I needed to write this post. No. You don't understand. I NEEDED to write this post.

Several years ago when I was in the midst of moving from the third floor of my apartment building to the second floor a friend noticed one of my boxes packed with VHS tapes and asked, mildly perplexed: "Is that a whole box of old Nebraska Football game tapes?" Indeed, it was. I did not record every game I watched my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers play but certain ones I did and held onto. I still have them. Granted, as eras changed and VHS was phased out and my VCR stopped working I, in turn, stopped this practice. But, then again, the 2008 Colorado game remains saved to my DVR.

In David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" the character of Pat Solitano Sr., played by Robert De Niro, has shelves and shelves in his study lined with VHS tapes of his beloved Philadelphia Eagle games. This is one of many - and one of the best - details meant to crystallize his O.C.D.

This is not meant to suggest that I have O.C.D. I would not hesitate to say I have O.C.D. tendencies here and there but I also do not want to compare myself to or belittle those who truly suffer from this disorder. This is merely an attempt to demonstrate that I can, in very real ways, identify with the whole crazy gang at the core of "Silver Linings Playbook."

Bradley Cooper's protagonist, Pat Solitano Jr., for instance, has inherited a less than rock solid mental state from his father and suffers from bi-polar disorder. I do not suffer from this disorder but I can attest to often finding myself overwhelmed emotionally, much to my (legendary) detriment, and that in specific situations - often social situations - I can become quite apprehensive.

Without venturing into explicit detail, I will say that just recently I found myself in the midst of the kind of life experience for which we all yearn. As it was happening, I was in touch enough to note that it was happening without allowing the fact that it was happening to adversely affect it happening (which has happened). But then, all of a sudden, as it had to, the experience reached the end-point, and that's when I allowed the fact that I knew it was happening to affect it happening.

Throughout "Silver Linings Playbook" Pat Sr. chastises his son, insulting him and pleading for him to tone down to his craziness without, of course, recognizing his own craziness and how he passed it onto his son. But a moment arrives near the end when Pat Sr., not necessarily reaching a higher plain regarding these flaws, is nonetheless able to deduce that his son is standing on the cusp of something special. As it occurs, you can see De Niro standing off to the side of the frame, watching, the proverbial light coming on, and his desperation to ensure that what needs to happen will happen.

He finds his son. He tells him: "When life reaches out at a moment like this, it's a sin if you don't reach back."

Only when it was too late did I realize that this particular life experience of mine was life itself reaching out to me. I realized this because of the way it has endlessly, frustratingly gnawed at me. I committed a sin. I didn't reach back. I should have reached back.

I honestly can't say if the moment would have turned out any different in the grand scheme if I had. But, of course, that's the whole point. As I stood there, face-to-face with life itself, the O.C.D. side of me kicked in and all I could see was how it couldn't and why it wouldn't work to do something and how it would leave such a bad taste in my mouth if I took action and failed, and because I desperately didn't want that bad taste - because I just wanted it as an illustrious memory - I let it go. And inevitably I wound up with a bad taste in my mouth.

I have taken this hard and am trying to shake it off and, thus, have vowed to take the pledge of Pat Jr., the pledge that gives the movie its title, to heart. I will grasp this failure of mine and hold it up as an example and find a silver lining.

And the next time life reaches out to me, so help me God, I will reach back. I will never not reach back again.


Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful post! Of course I'm curious about what life experience you're referring too (I love to hear real stories from other poeple's lives), but I asume you have good reasons why you want it to remain private.

I can't wait to see this movie myself. I'm afraid it won't open here until end of February next year.

Nick Prigge said...

I'll just say this...it's about a girl. It's ALWAYS about a girl.

It does seem like the release schedule with this one is odd. It was supposed to open wider in America and they held it back. Hopefully it gets there soon for you! I'm eager to hear your thoughts on it!

Derek Armstrong said...

Great movie!

(Ha. I thought it would be funny to make it seem like that's all I took away from your post.)

What are movies to us, if they don't stimulate us to try to make our lives more like them?

While on the one hand, trying to apply a lesson from a movie directly to your life can sometimes have disastrous results, I'd argue that the world would not be nearly so romantic a place if we didn't have movies defining for us what a romantic gesture should be. I wonder what our world would be like, and whether we'd have half the great stories we have from our personal lives, if we weren't on some level trying to give our lives the scope of a great movie. We'd probably all just be really boring.

Anonymous said...

I love this kind of personal and eloquent posts from you Nick! I enjoyed this film immensely, though the whole time it's clear Pat Sr. is a whole lot nuttier than his son, and the fact that he's so oblivious makes it all the more amusing.

Nick Prigge said...

Vance: Although I know it often comes across here like I live my life according to movies and that I believe in "signs", like Kate Beckinsale in "Serendipity", I do like to romantically embellish when I write. (Not that I don't wish "Serendipity" was a documentary. Because I do.) This whole life experience was just a way to remind myself that I'm totally in control of my own life. Maybe I shouldn't require a reminder like that, but sometimes I do.

Ruth: Thank you! I often have to write to work things out and so sometimes I worry about making posts like this but I'm glad a few people enjoyed it at least.