Allentown
79° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Academy Award-nominated film, 'Silver Linings Playbook,' praised for its portrayal of mental illness

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 19 2013 03:51:09 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2013 05:07:59 PM CST

It's raked-in eight Oscar nods and $100 million at the box office, but locally-filmed "Silver Linings Playbook" is also getting praise from psychologists for its compassionate portrayal of mental illness.

It's raked-in eight Oscar nods and $100 million at the box office, but locally-filmed "Silver Linings Playbook" is also getting praise from psychologists for its compassionate portrayal of mental illness.

The story is a homecoming of sorts. Pat Solitano, played by Jenkintown, Montgomery Co., native Bradley Cooper, has just come home -- from a mental institution.

"His mother takes him out of the institution where he's receiving care, even though they're not ready to discharge him yet," said Bethlehem psychologist Linda Palmo.

According to Palmo, the movie is surprisingly true to life.

"I thought that they really captured the essence of what being bi-polar can be like," she said.  "He refuses to take medication."

In one scene, Solitano wakes his parents up at four in the morning to complain about an Ernest Hemingway novel he's reading.

"It does a great job of portraying how talkative he is," said Palmo.  "How little sleep he needs."

It's also a love story.

"He meets a girl who has been widowed, and has a complicated grief reaction," said Palmo.

That character is played by Jennifer Lawrence, just off a hit performance in "The Hunger Games."  In one diner scene, shot in Upper Darby, Delaware Co., Lawrence's character admits to sleeping with 11 of her co-workers after her husband died.

"I'm just a crazy slut with a dead husband!"" she yells at Solitano, before smashing two platefuls of food.

Often criticized for simplistic stereotypes, Palmo said mental illness is one are where Hollywood is getting better.

"The portrayals are much more accurate now," she said.

She credited 1988's "Rain Main" with turning the tide.  Another current hit also touches on mental issues -- Denzel Washington's complex portrayal of an alcoholic in "Flight."

"Part of the stereotype is that people who have mental health issues are just not trying hard enough," she said.

If the locations in "Silver Linings Playbook" look familiar, that's because it was filmed around Philadelphia.  It's up for the best picture Oscar on Sunday night.