It feels like it’s been awhile since a movie in the theater affected me so much. I remember years ago leaving a showing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and being rocked for two days. A couple years later the Passion of the Christ came out and no one in our car spoke for 2 hours once we were able to drag ourselves out of our seats.
A couple weekends ago Lisa and I saw Silver Linings Playbook. I left thinking it was one of the best movies I’ve seen all year, but I also had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. The food was great, so I knew it was the movie poking me in the heart.
If you have not yet seen the movie, and you are planning to, this is your WARNING. I am giving you a major SPOILER ALERT as I am going to give away the entire movie.
The quick gist of the movie is that Pat (Bradley Cooper) finds his wife with another man. He snaps, and beats that man into a bloody pulp. The movie opens with Pat being released from the mental facility he was sentenced to stay in for 8 months. From here, the whole film is him trying to get his wife back. He lost a bunch of weight in the facility—in addition to learning to deal with his anger, and he’s now devouring every book on his wife’s syllabus (she’s a teacher). Pat loves his wife unconditionally, has forgiven her, and has now made it his mission to get her to forgive him for his outburst and resurrect their marriage.
Upon returning home, Pat is invited to some friends’ home for dinner. They know his wife well, so he jumps at the opportunity to ask how she’s doing and get as much information on her as he can. It’s at this dinner gathering he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany is the sister of Pat’s friend, and was widowed after only three years of marriage. They bond over the bevy of drugs they’ve each been on in efforts to combat their bipolar disorders, and the movie is up and running.
I could go into several aspects of the movie that affected me, but what got to me most was Pat’s pursuit of his marriage. One could argue that his obsession with being back with a woman who cheated on him is merely part of his psychosis. But as we learn more about Pat, I felt his obsession was out of unconditional love. He loved this woman so much that he was willing to forgive her infidelity and make changes to become a better man for her.
Tiffany agrees to help Pat get his wife back and even pass communication to her for him. But in return Pat must learn a dance for a competition that Tiffany wants to enter. Their relationship unfolds as they practice their dance steps and Pat continues obsessing over his cheating spouse.
Fast forward to the end…
Pat’s wife attends the dance competition, and we find out that Tiffany is in love with Pat. Pat has a brief conversation with his wife that we don’t hear, and he ends up chasing down Tiffany to tell her he wants to be with her. And they live happily ever after…
This is where I have my issue: this movie featured a man absolutely consumed with doing anything he could to be with his wife. But in the end, we (as the audience) are left happy that we saw the demise of his marriage and he ended up with someone else we thought we liked better.
Knowing that Pat’s wife had slept with another man, he had every right to leave her. I don’t debate that. But my issue comes from his radical shift. He fought for his wife’s heart for so long, only to let it go. Why?
Leaving the theater I was heartbroken, that after watching Pat fight for his marriage and do everything within his power to make it work, he ultimately gives up for something else. Why did something that seemed so important suddenly become passé? What seemed to mean life and death to him suddenly became, “Yeah, I’ll live…”
I think it’s movies like this that shed light on why more than half of marriages end in divorce. People are willing to fight, and fight, and fight for a marriage. But then once it hits a certain point, it’s “ok” to give up and give in. We as a society need to stop believing that the grass is always greener on the other side, and we need to start watering, fertilizing, and taking care of the grass on our own side. Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit…” Let’s apply this to our marriages, and stop wanting the easy way out.
Lisa and I talked about the movie and the heart of where it landed for awhile. (It had a lot more substance than our usual Spider-Man, Avengers, Hunger Games swill that we typically spend our money on.) Putting the affair aside, I think I get why Pat chose Tiffany.
She accepted him exactly as he was.
Pat was putting himself through so much to try to change into something his wife wanted, when all along Tiffany loved him just the way he was. She didn’t love him in spite of his psychosis, but saw the good parts that it brought out in him.
Isn’t that what all of us want? Someone to love and accept us just as we are? When people get divorced because of “irreconcilable differences” doesn’t that mean they are simply different people who refuse to accept each other for being different?
That is what unconditional love is. Acceptance at all costs. That is what a marriage needs. Unconditional acceptance for us to feel loved at all costs.