Ink to Film Podcast: Ep 75- Silver Linings Playbook (2012 film)
Note: The Ink to Film Podcast is conversational and intended to be heard, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, if able, for tone and inflection. Our transcripts are generated using a transcriptionist but may contain errors. Please refer to the corresponding audio before quoting anything written here.
This episode aired on February 7, 2019 and was made possible by our generous Patreons.
James: Welcome to the Ink to Film podcast, where we read the book…
Luke: …and then see the movie.
James: I’m James.
Luke: And I’m Luke.
James: And this week, we discuss David O. Russel’s 2012 film, Silver Linings Playbook. <music plays> Excelsior! We watched Silver Linings Playbook, the film and, uh…
Luke: Is that a Stan Lee quote? Did he coin that, or is that something else?
James: I mean that’s why it’s important to me. Excelsior is important to me because of Stan Lee, but I don’t know if he actually coined it or if it was something that was said that he kind of made famous.
Luke: Yeah, because everybody was like posting that when he passed recently. So, when I saw this movie, and that was his motto, I just immediately thought of Stan Lee. So, yeah, I’m excited to get into this movie, but I want to go ahead and announce our next project so that anybody who wants to can check it out and be ready. We are going to Dennis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, which is a collection of short stories that are connective, so it’s kind of a novel, kind of a collection of short stories that I absolutely adore. And it’s a movie that I’ve never seen. I know this has Jack Black in it. And, yeah, this is just kind of a passion project for me because it’s a book that I really love and I wanted to share with James. And I know there are people out there who know about it. It is probably a little bit on the more obscure side, but we’re hoping people will check it out and maybe listen to us talk about it a little bit and see if it’s something you’d want to read. Maybe you did see the movie when it came out. But, yeah, that’s going to be our next thing. We’re going to do two weeks on that—Jesus’ Son.
James: Yeah, I’m so unfamiliar with it that I don’t know anything about it, so I’m excited to get into it. I have started reading it since we decided to do it.
Luke: Oh, you did?
James: And I’m liking it, yeah.
Luke: Cool, cool. I’m excited to talk to you about that, man. Yeah, so you’re going into that like I went into this project, which is knowing nothing, basically. And that was kind of my take-away from this movie is that I’m glad I didn’t really know anything about this. I was able to really enjoy it in an interesting way. It was like a pure way of like, I just knew the story from the book, but I knew nothing about what performances I was going to get, what the direction was going to be like. Because I didn’t even remember…like, I think I saw a trailer for this when it came out, but I didn’t remember it. Robert DeNiro, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, they all just killed it with their performances, I thought. Even Chris Tucker was really funny and was kind of stealing scenes whenever he was around. It was really fun, a fun movie for me.
James: I totally agree. Revisiting this, I don’t know, it was really special to me because I feel like this is a movie that, when I saw it, I really enjoyed and that I remembered fondly, but over time it kind of like, not soured in my mind, but didn’t…I didn’t hold it in such high esteem as I did when I first saw it. So, revisiting it, I was just completely…I have a newfound appreciation for it, and I’m right back in with singing its praises. I really enjoyed it. Like you said, I think the cast is amazing, great soundtrack. Just the amount of money they must have spent on the music in this movie is insane, but…it has a lot of heart. And I think last week I said something about how I thought it was less about the love story, but I was completely wrong. It’s very much that love story, and I think that’s the strongest part. And I think there are a couple reasons why I think it’s stronger than the book.
Luke: I was going to say this is a movie that…it’s interesting because I really thought like I could see all the mechanisms for adaptation. Like all the choices they were making. Because I just had that purity of having read the book, I think. I was able to really see all the choices they made, and I think understand a lot of the reasons why they made them. And it is very different than the book. And it’s interesting because I thought…I thought it was going to be a lot more faithful than it was. I guess that was my impression of it. I don’t know why I had that impression, but…yeah, it…although it kept a lot of the same form, it did change a lot of pretty key scenes and key character things, and yeah, it was a different experience. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, you know, but it was very different than this movie.
James: There is a certain life to this film. I really enjoyed…like, it’s very believable, and it felt like we were just dropped into this story with these, like, real people. One of the major things for me, is I feel like we get…like a small shift at one point in the movie where it kind of becomes about Tiffany’s story as well, and I think that’s a really strong choice, to make this more of a full-feeling story.
Luke: Yeah, I agree. Because we talked about that in the book. Where we were only really getting Pat’s perspective on everything, and we wondered what would it have been like if we had gotten to see Tiffany’s point of view. And we definitely get that here. I feel like the film moves perspectives as much as a camera can, and we are more viewing Pat from Tiffany’s point of view, rather than the book, where it’s all like Pat’s own view of himself. It’s a slightly shifted perspective on the story. But it works.
James: I want to talk about Pat for a second. Like, I think he is immediately more likeable. I think that the book Pat was likeable, but there’s something about…maybe it’s just how charming Bradley Cooper is, but he, like…I was immediately on board and like, when…in that first scene you see kind of like his situation, what he’s going through, and then…it’s at the very beginning of the movie. He’s being released, and he’s with a friend, and there this…what I’m trying to say is that this first scene really sets the tone for the film because, although we want to pull for this guy, we feel like this building storm, and we feel like this tension that like…just having him basically break his friend out is kind of showing what kind of a character he’s going to be throughout, like unpredictable. I think that first scene was really stellar in setting everything up.
Luke: Yeah, and it had Chris Tucker in it, who, once again, I really loved his performance in this movie. It was funny how he kept doing that…kept getting free. But before we get too far along into it, I want to make sure we stop for a second and give a big shout-out to Steven E., who is our Jukebox Hero Patreon supporter who basically commissioned this podcast. He spent his tokens toward it, and we’re doing two weeks now. We did last week and this week on it. Thank him for introducing us to it, to introducing me to it. Like I said, this isn’t something that was really on my radar. But, yeah, if you wanted to find out how he went about doing this and how you could be able to get us to do a project of your choosing, check out our Patreon.com/InkToFilm, and you can see all our different tiers and see how it was done.
James: Thank you again to Steven. It was really cool. It’s been really fun. Honestly, like I said, it’s a new…it’s like a new feeling that I have after this revisit, so I do appreciate this chance to go back…
Luke: To change your perspective on it.
James: It definitely has. Like, I think that I was just in a different headspace and, like, although I loved the performances and I loved the direction in this film the first time, something about it, like I said, as time went on, I didn’t revere it as much as I did when it first came out, and now I’m like, like I said, right back in. I really liked it.
Luke: I know Robert DeNiro’s a great actor and, honestly, in this role he’s…I mean, he’s not the main focus of this movie…but I thought he killed it as the dad, and I love…they did a lot of little changes to the character of the father, and a lot of them I really enjoyed.
James: Yeah, we talked about in the book episode how he just seemed like irredeemable, almost, at points.
Luke: And he still does some messed-up stuff in this movie, you know. He’s not completely without reproach.
James: But I think you can relate to him a little more.
Luke: Oh, absolutely. They made him a lot more relatable. They made him more likeable. And you kind of root for him, and, yeah, there’s a few moments where he got me with his performances, too. So, we can talk about them as they come.
James: While we’re talking about cast, I think everyone killed it. Bradley Cooper clearly is Pat. I think he kind of set the tone. Like I think that he and Jennifer Lawrence really, really hold this film up. And, speaking of Jennifer Lawrence, this was kind of the first time…I’d seen her in Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class, but this was when I was like, “Oh, she’s like…she’s legit…like she’s going to be a massive movie star, and she’s got a lot of talent.” This was the turning point for me. And then she would go on to work with David O. Russel, who directed this, on American Hustle, which got just as much critical acclaim, and like…and the rest is history. She’s one of the biggest movie stars in the world.
Luke: I agree. And she absolutely killed it as Tiffany. We talked about the character and how there was a few things kind of trope-y about her in the book, but it felt like it just kind of got wiped away for the movie. Like, I didn’t feel any of that. I think it’s really just that we were closer to her in the movie, and we understood her story more, and they tweaked a few things here and there to change it to where…yeah, I didn’t have the same problems with the character that I had. It wasn’t like huge problems, but I had some slight quibbles over the character in the book, and they went away.
James: Another fantastic actor in this movie was Jacki Weaver, who played Pat’s mother, Dolores, and I thought she did a great job, too. And she had this interesting role in this, whereas their relationship wasn’t as strained as it was in the book.
Luke: Yeah, I think the mother in the book was like crying a lot more, and…
James: I think how I felt about the family dynamic is that she was kind of holding the family together.
James: Whereas in the other one, it was like she was holding on, like trying to hang in there for the family.
Luke: Yeah, I can see that.
James: Chris Tucker, let’s talk about…
Luke: As Danny, right? That’s the character?
James: Yes, Danny.
Luke: Yeah, he was hilarious. Like I said earlier, he stole scenes…definitely a few moments where…I don’t wanna…I mean we’re not getting into the plot yet, but yeah, he was very funny and very good. And I don’t know what else to say about him.
James: Yeah, he…I mean it’s just a different kind of role for him. I mean he’s had some serious roles, but…I think of Chris Tucker from like Rush Hour or like Fifth Element.
Luke: Yeah. Honestly, those are my two touchstones for him, as well.
James: Massive, like over-the-top roles, and this was like…obviously, he was funny, and he was like kind of the biggest personality in the room sometimes, but he was much more subdued. It was a great performance.
Luke: Yeah, I do want to say Cliff was a character that I think…I think Cliff in the book was more interesting, and I was a little bit more on board with him in the book. In the movie, while I still liked the performance okay, and I think they got sort of the essence of the character, um…I just didn’t connect with him as strongly, and I didn’t…I felt like he was less helpful to Pat.
James: Do you feel like he had less to do, though? Maybe they cut some of his stuff?
Luke: He had less to do, but then also he felt like he wasn’t as clever with his…I don’t know. It seemed to me like he was a little bit just slightly more unprofessional, rather than it being…because in the book it felt like it was kind of calculated at times, even though it ended up being authentic, it was like he was using his love for the Eagles to really connect with Pat, and he was using the love of the game to help bring him together with his family, and all this stuff. Whereas in the movie, it was just kind of like…”Oh yeah, he also happens to be an Eagles fan, isn’t that funny?”
James: Yeah, so that’s Anupam Kher, I believe his name is. I think he did a pretty good job with the performance, personally. It’s not the performance I had an issue with, it was just like…I felt like he didn’t have a ton to do.
Luke: Yeah, it’s more the character as written. They reduced his role and changed the character a little bit. Which is fine, you know, that has to happen if you’re going to elevate like, say, Danny had more to do in the movie. It was better for it because he was very interesting in the movie, and it made his role in the story make more sense than it did in the book. So, yeah, I mean it was just little tweaks here and there and, like I said, I hit this moment where I was really feeling this adaptation. I could really see what they did and why they did it.
James: So, three more people I wanted to shout out. John Ortiz plays Ronnie, and I think some of those scenes where he was talking about the stuff he was going through…he was also cracking me up, and he did a great job. And then his wife was Julia Stiles, who played Veronica, who also did a really good job.
Luke: Yeah. Man, they really…Julia Stiles and Jennifer Lawrence really were convincing that they could be sisters. In this movie. I was amazed when they were sitting at the table together, and I was looking at their faces. I was like, “They do kind of look like they could be related.”
James: I didn’t even think about that, but yeah, in terms of just their looks…
Luke: Yeah. Like, something about their face shape, too. It seems kind of in the same wheelhouse, like, you know.
James: So, the other actor I wanted to shout out was Shea Wigham. He plays Jake, Pat’s brother, and the first scene that we got with him, I thought that he was going to take on the father’s role from the book. Kind of like an asshole and like…seemingly the antagonist for the story. But it didn’t turn out that way, and I did like a lot of the scenes he was in with Pat and, like, specifically, the Eagles game was pretty fun.
Luke: Yeah, I agree, and he…so, it was funny…as much as I was saying the Julia Stiles/Jennifer Lawrence thing, Robert DeNiro and [Shea Wigham] and Bradley Cooper, I don’t know how much they all look like they’re in the same family. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me, but…that was one where I was like…hmmm.
James: I can kind of see the Bradley Cooper/Robert DeNiro.
Luke: Really? I was going to say the brother and Robert DeNiro more because they have that kind of square jaw more, but…yeah, I don’t know. It’s all…it’s good enough. It’s fine. It’s a movie.
James: So, David O. Russel. A couple things I wanted to touch on with him were…you were talking about how the film feels, like it was…you could see the adaptation in it. It’s really interesting because David O. Russel had this script for like five years, and he was reworking it and, uh, I think I read that he went through like 25 drafts…
James: Before he was really able to, like, pull out everything he wanted out of it. And I think that does show because, when we get into spoilers, we’ll talk about it more, but he changed like…fundamentally changed a couple things that made for, I feel like, a more interesting and, like, full story. But the direction, too…like I think without this, even with the script, I think without this director, you’re not going to get the performances out of the actors and I just think this film would be way different without David O. Russel.
Luke: It’s interesting because…I feel like this is kind of a tough movie to make work. The more I think about it. Because it doesn’t have a lot of flashy elements, and to make a movie like this visually interesting and get the performances you want, to make it appeal to people and be a movie people are going to want to watch…I don’t know, it’s like you almost can’t rely on, “Oh, we’re going to have a big action set piece,” or “We’re going to have a really tense moment here with a…” you know. It was such a simple story with deep personal stakes, and sometimes I think there’s a real art to being able to make that an engaging movie.
James: Well, yeah, just to throw a couple scenes out…the diner scene, for me is my favorite scene of the film, and I think that’s the big moment, like the diner scene and then leaving the diner and going in front of that theater. For me, that’s the moment for the actors to shine and the director to shine and just like letting the actors play in that space, and he got such true performances from them. But, let’s talk about David O. Russel a little bit. He is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. His early directing career includes the comedy film Spanking the Monkey, which I have not seen, Flirting with Disaster…have you seen that?
Luke: No. <laughing>
James: Oh, okay.
Luke: I actually don’t know…I’m going to be interested to see if I’ve seen any of his other movies, because I don’t know that I have.
James: I think you have. So, his other ones are Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, and I Heart Huckabees.
Luke: Okay, so Three Kings…that is one I have seen, but it’s been a long time, and I barely remember it. I haven’t seen I Heart Huckabees. Although I’ve heard of it, I have not seen it.
James: I’ve seen Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, but I haven’t seen the other two. But then, like recently…I guess kind of recently, he had this big, like artistic kind of change and push into the director that he is now. Three of his more recent films are the sports drama The Fighter with Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg.
Luke: Oh, shoot! Okay. That movie I did see, and I actually really enjoyed it. I did not know this was the same director. Wow! That has a killer performance by…is it Amy Adams who is in that, as the…
Luke: Yeah, she’s great in that. And then Bale…he has that really transformative…like he often does.
James: He’s kind of one of those directors that, like, finds the artists that he likes and continues to work with them. So, to talk about some of his other ones, Silver Linings Playbook was one and American Hustle. Did you see American Hustle?
Luke: I did not see that one.
James: So, that one has Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Luke: Oh, wow…
James: As well as Robert DeNiro. And Bradley Cooper.
Luke: Yeah, I need to see that. That sounds like the kind of movie I’d really enjoy.
James: So, like he took everyone from The Fighter, everyone from Silver Linings Playbook, and put them all together. So, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle were commercially successful and acclaimed by critics, having earned Russel three Academy Awards for best director, as well as best adapted screenplay nominations for Silver Linings Playbook, and a best original screenplay nomination for American Hustle. He then went on to direct Joy in 2015, which again had, I believe Robert DeNiro, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper. So, some stuff that I found in my research, many feel that David O. Russel is one of the greatest actor’s directors working today. He understands how to work with actors and how to get the performances he wants out of them while also collaborating and letting them bring their own stuff to it. And I think you can definitely see that with, like, Christian Bale in The Fighter or, like, Bradley Cooper in this film. He really lets his actors…and Jennifer Lawrence in this film, as well. Just, like, he lets them bring their character really bring something different to them. So, to talk about his whole circle of actors that he works with real quick again, I just wanted to point out that Mark Wahlberg partnered with Russel in Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, and The Fighter. While Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro all appeared in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and Joy. Christian Bale and Amy Adams both appeared in The Fighter and American Hustle.
Luke: Nice. Tarantino does that, too, right? Like Christopher Nolan…there’s a few directors out there I can think of that often do this. Like a certain…
James: Yeah, like Martin Scorsese.
Luke: Yeah, Scorsese.
James: There’s so many that are like…and I think it’s just because you get that shorthand with that actor, and…
Luke: Yeah, it makes sense.
James: And you love them as a person, and you know what kind of performances you can get from them, and it just makes sense to be like, why wouldn’t you want to work with a brilliant actor who is also kind of a friend and can…is the best in the game.
James: You brought up Tarantino, so I’ll talk about it. Tarantino says that…is one of the people who say that David O. Russel is one of the greatest working actor’s directors. Tarantino said that, other than himself, he thinks that David O. Russel is his favorite actor’s director.
Luke: Other than himself <laughs>. That’s funny.
James: Yeah. Well, it’s Tarantino, so…
Luke: Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, yeah. I need to see more of his stuff, clearly. Because the two things I’ve seen by him now I really love, and I guess Three Kings I have seen, but I just don’t remember it. I saw it too young, I think, to appreciate it.
James: Yeah. So, we talked recently about A Star is Born, and Bradley Cooper now directing, and his whole career is taking a different direction, and I think he’s having a lot of success with that.
Luke: So, we should mention, we didn’t cover A Star is Born, but we did talk about it briefly at the end of an episode or something, just…I was saying that I’d just watched it recently and really enjoyed it. And you said you had seen it, too. So, we kind of mentioned that when we were getting into this project and, yeah, it was really cool for me to revisit Bradley Cooper and see him in a very different sort of role and see a bit of his range, which I like.
James: I’ve listened to interviews and read some stuff here and there about Bradley Cooper and his process for A Star is Born and found out that, like, a lot of…because he’d worked with David O. Russel on three films, he’s taking a lot of what he learned from David O. Russel and…actually, Jay Cassidy is one of the editors for Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and Joy, and so Bradley Cooper went and grabbed Jay Cassidy to edit A Star is Born. So, kind of just like keeping in with those people that he’s familiar with, and he knows that he loved the editing of Jay Cassidy, so he went and got him for his first directorial debut.
Luke: That’s cool, man.
James: It’s kind of cool to see his, like, his lineage of where he’s learning and who he’s inspired by, and carrying that through and being…I mean, look how successful A Star is Born has been.
Luke: Yeah, great directing in that. And great performances. I’m always amazed when a director is able to get a performance out of themselves. It’s really remarkable. That seems almost counter-intuitive, like how is that possible? But he killed it.
James: So, I listened to a podcast that Bradley Cooper was on, and he, similar to this…
Luke: What was the name of it?
James: It’s called The Director’s Cut. It’s the DGA podcast [Ed. note: Director’s Guild of America]. It’s cool. I really enjoy it. They have a director come on with…talking about their most recent film, and they have another filmmaker kind of interview them.
James: Super cool. So, check out that interview. But to kind of spoil some of it, he says that he had tons of prep time for this. For A Star is Born. In the same way that David O. Russel had a ton of prep time for this film, so he talked about his…he knew what he wanted, he kind of thought of shot selection and that kind of stuff. Er, he definitely had planned out all of that. He knew what he wanted from the characters. He had…like, I mean, they were practicing the singing and getting all the songs together and, like, he’d been working on it for years. And he talked about how, on the day, to get the performance out of himself wasn’t the hard part, it was being in…like being there with the other actor and directing. He says it wasn’t the hard part for him because he didn’t need to look at the monitor. He knew that his camera ops and his DP, everybody was going to figure out…they knew what to do because they had that shorthand. They’d talked about what he wanted, so he could just stay in the scene and just kind of like vibe with whoever was in the scene with him and, like, keep running lines. He was able to get some really great performances out of Lady Gaga, himself, Sam Elliott. It was really cool to hear him talk about it.
Luke: Well, we’re talking Silver Linings Playbook here, so let’s get back to that movie. I mean, if you want to see A Star is Born, I do recommend it. Very good. Check it out. But, yeah, this movie. One of the things…I don’t know if you’re done talking about David O. Russel or not yet, but with Pat…so they changed his name. His name was Pat Peoples in the book, but it’s like Pat Solitano in the movie? Which I think was smart. Peoples we talked about in the last episode, didn’t like that name. But they changed his sort of mental state a little bit. And one of the things they did, I think, that made him a lot more likeable, was his…one of his main problems was that he had no filter. And anytime you have a character in a movie with no filter, like that character is always hilarious, and always…you always root for them. Because it’s like they’ll say anything to anybody. It’s kind of like wish fulfillment, I think, because we all wish we could do that sometimes. And that’s how he is. Like, he just says things to people. He just cuts through all the bullshit and just, like, doesn’t keep secrets. We see it early on when his mom tells him something about the father losing his job. He just immediately tells him. Yeah, it’s good. And then his entire thing with Tiffany, where he’s just constantly mentioning her dead husband, even though that’s the kind of subject you should broach with somebody…it breaks norms, right? In an entertaining way.
James: And I think, like you said, it endears that character to us right away, and it also shows like a level of honesty. He’s not hiding anything from the audience, so we don’t need to think that he’s shady or, like, think he has any ill will toward the people. We understand his character, and we see that it’s just him being so bluntly honest and being himself. While, at the same time, like, upsetting other people by doing it. But it does tend to be funny.
Luke: Yeah, and last episode, I compared him to Patrick Bateman in certain ways. And I said he was very different in a lot of ways, but there were certain similarities. I don’t think that was really the case for the movie version of this character that we get. I honestly didn’t make that connection at all. So, I think that was a book-specific thing for me. And part of it is just not being in his head, where it’s like…even American Pscycho the film is very close to Bateman’s perspective. We’re in Bateman’s head, we get his voice-over a lot. In this movie, it didn’t feel that way. It felt like they drew back and they showed it more as a whole. We see Pat from the exterior a lot more, through other characters’ eyes, basically. Yeah, we get like conversations between the parents, where he’s not present. Stuff like that.
James: Yeah, and that allowed for Tiffany to have her own kind of, like, story and agency, and things that she was doing and wanting. But, yeah, I think this is the perfect time to jump into the plot. I think I have it in three chunks, four chunks here. So, I’m just going to read some plot, and we’ll talk about what happened in there.
Pat Solitano, who has bipolar disorder, is released from a mental health facility into the care of his parents after eight months of treatment. His father, Pat Sr., is out of work and resorting to bookmaking to earn money to start a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with his wife, who he is separated from, Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after the violent episode that sent him away. While talking to Dr. Patel, his therapist, he tells him about coming home early from his high school teaching job and finding Nikki in the shower having sex with another teacher as Pat and Nikki’s wedding song played on their stereo. Enraged, he nearly beat the man to death. At dinner with his friend, Ronnie, he meets Tiffany Maxwell, a young widow and recovering sex addict who also just lost her job. Pat and Tiffany develop an odd friendship through their shared neurosis, and he sees an opportunity to communicate with Nikki through her. Pat asks Tiffany to go to dinner, and they share raisin bread.
Luke: Yeah, you covered a lot of ground there. So, I want to back up and talk about some of those changes, right? We see eight months in the facility, instead of…what was it…four or five years? Or something like that. It was a lot longer in the book. There was a huge amount…
James: Well, that was a big, disturbing plot twist, that moment for us…and…
Luke: See, everyone was lying about it. How long he’d been in there. We got a big change in Nikki…the way Nikki plays a role in the story was changed pretty fundamentally. From the get-go, we are given the big reveal pretty early on about what happened and why he got…how he injured his head and how…basically the fact that she’s real…and, there’s a lot of that in the book, where it was mysterious about, “Is Nikki even a real person?” Is she a figment of his imagination? Is she actually dead? I had all these questions. All those are gone. You know, the director decided not to go that route, so I think that was smart, because I think those sorts of mysteries for this story played better in the book than they probably would have on screen. Also, the importance of the song was still present, but it was dialed back a little bit. We didn’t get Mr. G. standing over him in the night.
James: It was a different song, yeah.
Luke: It was a different song. It wasn’t Kenny G. I don’t know. It was interesting. And then, like, Nikki…what she did was pretty despicable, and obviously…and she’s set up in a way that we definitely are meant to hate her. And I think that’s true in the book, too, but as we go forward we’ll see that they changed her role in it a little bit, too, you know at the end? So, I don’t know. What were your thoughts on all those changes, and why do you think maybe he made those choices?
James: First off, I think that they were solid choices. Because, like you said, I think in the book it felt like they were there for the sake of, like, this is a plot twist that’s going to happen that’s going to shock our main character. This is the thing that he’s so obsessed with—Nikki. And in this, he is so obsessed with Nikki, but it just feels like in a totally different way. Like, he…I guess the obsession feels the same, but like the way that it’s doled out to the audience. Like you said, her being potentially fake and, well, you thought that at least. And then, having her writing the letters. I don’t think there was a moment in the movie where I thought that Tiffany wasn’t writing the letters.
Luke: Oh yeah…no.
James: I kind of always figured that…
Luke: Yeah. That was another thing they didn’t conceal. From the get-go, you knew it was Tiffany.
James: And I think that…and the decision not to have multiple letters and have it be stretched over a longer period of time kind of makes it more believable to me. Because, like, writing multiple letters…it just seems like a lot of effort, and it just feels more natural to just have, like, one letter and have that kind of be the thing where he figures it out. We’re getting way ahead of it, though, so let me jump back to kind of some of the stuff that goes on here.
Luke: Real quick. So, one of the changes, as we were talking it kind of crystallized in my mind. So, Nikki, in the book, one of the major driving forces for Pat is not only trying to get back with her, but he has this sort of alternate goal that maybe he isn’t even fully aware of, but we are aware of, and that is learning the truth about what happened. What happened between him and Nikki, because he doesn’t remember. That is completely absent in the movie. In the movie, he totally knows what happened, he just wants to reconcile. And we see that as delusional, but that is a fundamental change in character. And, I don’t know, I just think it plays well for the movie.
James: Me, too. Because, like you said, the way that it’s a mystery of what actually happened. When we know what it is right off the bat, we’re more sympathetic toward Pat because, like, in the book, we didn’t know. Like, clearly he shouldn’t have beat the hell out of this guy, it wasn’t the right way to handle it. But, like, what Nikki did wasn’t…you can understand how he got to that point, because people do that in stories.
Luke: That reminds me of another big change. He has pre-existing undiagnosed bipolar or something like that, we hear.
Luke: So, he had a lot of his issues leading up to the big incident. Whereas, in the book, it was my understanding that everything was caused by his injury. So, you know, at least it’s unclear. So, that was a big change, too. It was more like she was…her infidelity seems like she was rejecting his sort of abnormal mental state, right? Like it was a rejection of him as a person. And, so that changes that whole dynamic, too, you know. So, it’s interesting. It sounds almost like we’re talking about little things, but these are actually pretty huge.
James: The story feels like it’s the same story, but at every turn it’s…
Luke: It’s like ostensibly the same story. When you look at all the parts, they’re all there, and they all do similar things, but they fit together differently.
James: No, totally. And like I said, I think that maybe it’s just that time that David O. Russel had to stew over this and really think about what he wanted his characters to be motivated by and how he wanted everything to turn out. I think he did a great job of 1) making characters more sympathetic and 2) making characters more interesting. And I think that’s never going to be a bad thing for a film because it’s just like people latch onto that. So, before we give more plot, I gotta tell you about a couple things.
James: The first thing I wanted to talk about was, when he was at the dinner and first met Tiffany, they were touring the house and they had, like, iPod player things in all the areas, and I had to mention this because I know you’re such a big Metallica guy, but he was like, “Can you play Ride the Lightning by Metallica on there?”
Luke: So funny, and they got a second shout-out later when he talks about how he goes into his basement and plays Metallica and breaks things…and Megadeath.
James: Yeah, and he’s like, “Rawr.” That character is so funny, I love it.
Luke: Yeah, that definitely cracked me up. I made a note of that one, too. Very funny. Definitely made me like Pat even more.
James: And then I did want to talk about also, just some of the direction I was noticing in this film. I wanted to talk specifically about form. There is a lot of really, really uncomfortably close-up shots of Pat and Tiffany. And I think that’s a way, like a director’s choice, to really force you to deal with their problems with them, as well as feeling really close to them. Like, there’s this scene when he walks into the therapist for the first time, and he’s signing in, and the song is playing. We’re in his face the whole way until he starts to sign in, and then we hear that song playing, and we’re starting to realize…I guess we don’t necessarily know at that point, but we’re starting to realize something is going on, and then he freaks out and pulls the magazine thing down. And then another time is when they’re at the diner. Everything is very, very shallow-focused. We basically have just their eyes and part of their head in focus, and everything else in the background is not in focus, and it’s kind of just conveying this idea that they’re alone on this island having this conversation about her sexual escapades, like everything that she was doing after…is escapades the right word? I feel like that’s a weird word to say there. Her sexual, uh, journey she went through where she had sex with, like, a lot of people.
Luke: Yeah, which was also infused with humor. So…like, I was watching with my wife, and she laughed about it. You know, the whole idea…you know, was there a woman in there? And the way she kind of went into detail, and he was obviously getting excited. It was funny. But it was also like…we could see him struggling with himself. I don’t know. That was the thing. I think I saw more of him, like his actual genuine attraction for her shining through, whereas in the book it felt like he was in complete denial about it.
James: Exactly, yeah. And I think that helped their story. Because it’s like, clearly he’s struggling with his feelings for her while also still pining after his wife, who he wants to get back, is I think much more interesting than him just completely rejecting…and then, out of nowhere at the end they just get together.
James: You know what I mean?
Luke: Yeah. Well, although it’s different, too. It’s not even really that, because the love story part of it is really played down in the book. It’s more like they just say “I need you” at the end. It almost feels more platonic, even though there is the implication that there is a romance there, too. But, so real quick, talking about what you…you made me kind of go down a rabbit hole in my mind a little bit with the directing because, just directing in general. And this is always something that seems like magic to me, and it seems like this is where, on a base level, where directors can really shine. And that’s how they have to make decisions about when to show an actor’s face on a huge close-up, when to pull back, when to show, like, the whole scene, and then when to show the person who is speaking versus the person who is being spoken to, in showing their reaction, and how much of it to play and, I don’t know, I feel like there’s a real magic to that, and that’s where people’s eye for this can really shine. To me, it would be a tough decision to make because I would just feel like I was doing them willy-nilly, but I know it’s like they really have a reason to do everything they’re doing.
James: Yeah. You’re touching all around the point that I was going to make with this, with the shallow depth of field. So, I agree with what you’re saying. I think that you have to assume every shot was selected for a reason to evoke a certain emotion to the audience. What I thought was amazing about this scene, we’re dealing with really, really shallow focus on their own island, and then the thing that happens right after that is Tiffany realizes how Pat actually feels about her, and he realizes he just thinks she’s so crazy. And that’s when she explodes and throws everything off the table, and then we get wide shots of everybody…that small conversation that was them on the island then turns into the entire room, and people are shouting, and the waitress…on his way out of the thing, the waitress says, like, “Hang on.” So, it’s like, it just turns into this whole larger scene from this really small, intimate moment. And I think that’s amazing because then we flow into, like downtown Philadelphia, I’m assuming, where it’s like tons of people who are out for Halloween, and they’re in front of the theater, and she starts screaming about how he’s harassing her, and I think that entire sequence there is like a master class in terms of, like, conveying certain emotions. And once he starts hearing the song, we get this, like, fisheye lens where, like, everything seems distorted. We’re getting, like, his first-person perspective on the cop running up, and it’s just very interesting to see the choices that were made there…
Luke: I feel like there were some of those, what are they? Dutch angles? In there. In that moment.
James: Oh, I’m sure, yeah.
Luke: Yeah, so it’s interesting because I’m thinking symbolically, there is something to her sort of…she chooses to bring in everyone else in both of those scenes. And they all judge him harshly. I think it’s interesting. It’s a very personal thing between the two of them, but then this sort of…using it like a device…she brings in the greater society and how people view, you know, people with conditions differently. And people are afraid of him. And all that sort of thing. Like, I don’t know, it’s interesting symbolically that she does that. Because then, it’s also like she later proves that she is willing to use his condition against him, too, and manipulate him that way. Yeah, and then it also reflects…the other thought I had was that it also reflects sort of a real-life feeling that you can have. Like, you go to a restaurant with people, you feel that way. You feel like it’s just you at the table, like you don’t think about the greater restaurant, and it does feel very…
James: Until somebody makes a scene.
Luke: Until somebody makes a scene, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh, this is a very public place.”
Luke: So, yes, it works on multiple levels.
James: Yeah. So, we need to jump into some more plot here. Tiffany offers to deliver a letter to Nikki if, in return, Pat will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees, and the two begin a rigorous practice regime over the following weeks. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki he has changed and become a better man. Tiffany gives Pat a typed reply from Nikki, in which she cautiously hints there may be a chance of a reconciliation between them. So, with this I really wanted to talk about something that we felt…well, you specifically mentioned in the book, and I agreed with you…the dancing in the book felt kind of…it just felt like it was serving a weird purpose. We didn’t really understand what it was there for. But I want to ask how you felt about the dancing and how it’s tied into kind of the other events in the film.
Luke: Well, it played better in the movie, and I thought it would. Because, to me, dancing is such a visual medium. There is so much you can convey with it. For one, I’ve always…people always compare dancing to sex. They’re like, “Oh, you know, if someone’s a good dancer, that means they’d be good in bed.” I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this. I’ve heard it a few times.
Luke: And, at the very least, I think when you see two people dancing together, and they have a really strong chemistry with each other. And it’s not…you know, some people can just do that because they’re good dancers, but usually that does mean there is some sort of intimacy at least being flirted with there, right? And so, dancing as a vehicle for our characters to become intimate with each other without actually being romantically intimate creates a really nice drama, too, because it forces Pat to be intimate even though he is trying not to. Like, he’s trying to stay back for Nikki’s sake, right? Yeah, it creates a really cool…and that worked a little bit in the book, too, but you know, I don’t wanna totally…like, that was obviously the reason, but it also was presented in a more believable way, like Pat wasn’t very good at it. There was the hilarious scene where Danny comes in and gives them a bunch of pointers and is dancing with her. That was very funny. And then, yeah, you know, leading all the way up to the big finale of the dance and how differently that played out in the movie. What was your take on the dancing?
James: I enjoyed it, and I think that having it be the way…obviously, it’s in the book as well, but them spending quality time together in that way and, like you said, being in an intimate…kind of very close quarters…clearly, like, you can see where Pat’s mind is and how he’s struggling with the Nikki stuff still at that point. But I also like the idea, and I think it happened similarly in the book…so the bet that was like the parlay, the double or nothing that was brought in…where it was like the Eagles have to win and the dancing has to be like a 5.0 or whatever. That wasn’t in the book, right?
Luke: That wasn’t in the book?
James: Both things at the same time wasn’t in the book.
Luke: No, no, no. It was definitely different because, that’s the other thing I wanted to talk about…the role football plays in this movie is quite different than it does in the book. In fact, it was a lot less. It was there, but it was like…the book, it was really kind of like touchstone symbol for Pat’s mental state throughout the book. And where he was at with his life was like a mirror of where the Eagles were at in their season.
James: Well, we kind of get that when Tiffany says that, like, when the Eagles are playing well Pat has been with me.
Luke: Yeah, but to me, it felt like…well, I don’t know, maybe it’s just my own personal bias, but it felt to me like it was all complete bullshit. Like that was all just…she had found these correlations and was using them to manipulate Pat’s father because she knew that he had his own sort of atypical mental states, where he’s like…he seems like he’s OCD or something, but specifically about rituals to do with the game. So, yeah, I mean it was…it’s interesting though because it’s like it’s there but it’s shifted. Like we talked about a lot of it. It’s slightly different now.
James: You’re talking about that scene…real quick, where she’s rattling off the stats and, like that was cool, and I understand why it was there, but there was something about the Budweiser pop open and drink at the end of it that was a little…do you know what I’m talking about? She had just finished telling them all the stats, like she was like, “The Phillies won this game, and the Eagles won this game.” And then, at the end, they’re like, “Wow, I’m really impressed,” and all this stuff, and she cracks a Budweiser and is like drinking the Budweiser and is like, “Thank you.” It just felt like really over the top.
Luke: Too much for you?
James: It made me cringe a little bit.
Luke: I mean, I can see that, but it’s also like that’s the cherry on top for her winning over the dad. Because in that moment, she completely wins over the dad, and he is like 100% about her now. And I think the beer thing is like another, like…because they don’t know her at all. She is a complete stranger, and the beer thing is like another thing where she…because she seems like, even though we know it’s a lie…she seems like she’s super into sports and knows all this stuff, and here I am drinking beer with you guys, and…I don’t know. I think it was interesting because it was like this olive branch that she was extending to the father, but then she was also manipulating him. Which really, I though was cool, because it cleverly mimics what she’s doing to Pat, right?
James: She’s quite a liar in this movie.
Luke: She’s clearly willing to manipulate people and use their problems against them in a way to control them. That’s pretty dark. So, I was a little surprised at how willing to forgive Pat was, because I think we see in the book him being a lot more upset and betrayed by what she does. Than it feels like he is here.
James: And that helps the love story, I think.
James: The love story aspect of this movie is the forgiveness and the being, like, “I always cared for you.” Not being threaded in early makes it more believable and also makes it more of a…not that it’s not typical…but kind of your typical romance story. There was clearly always the tension, but there was like there was an obstacle in the way.
Luke: So, his feelings for her is the reason he’s able to forgive. Because he can see through it and see the reason maybe she was doing it was that she genuinely wanted to be with him. You could argue that maybe that doesn’t make as much sense for the character and that someone like him with that sort of atypical mind state…whatever you want to call it…he probably would be more upset about this than he is in the movie. I don’t know. It’s two different characters, a little bit, even though it is the same.
James: So, we talked about it earlier in this episode, we were talking about the therapist and his role. There is a moment after…so let me read this portion of the synopsis real quick, because we were kind of talking about it.
Pat skips practice with Tiffany to attend an Eagles game for his father but is dragged into a fight and hauled away by police. The Eagles lose the game, and Pat Sr. is furious. Tiffany arrives, berates Pat, and argues in detail the way she reads the signs. Pat Sr. was luckier when Pat was practicing with her. Pat Sr. makes a parlay with his gambling friend that, if the Eagles win their game against Dallas, and if Pat and Tiffany score at least a 5 out of 10 in their dance competition, he will win back double the money he lost on their first bet. Pat is reluctant to participate in the dance contest under those conditions and re-reads Nikki’s letter. After noticing that a phrase Tiffany had said also appears in the letter supposedly written by Nikki, he realizes that Nikki’s letter had been forged by Tiffany.
James: So, the thing I wanted to bring up was the therapist. So, he’s at the game and then, after the fight, the therapist comes back to the house with all the guys. And he’s there when Pat Sr. is taking the jersey off, and he’s all freaking out because they lost. And it’s just weird that the therapist was there and didn’t say anything or do anything when that’s kind of his forte and background.
Luke: Yeah, but…
James: I guess the way I kind of rationalized it in my head was that he had been drinking and tailgating and maybe he had an altered state of mind. But it was weird for him to show up there, as well.
Luke: Yeah, it was a little unusual. And I remember kind of expecting him to insert himself into the scene, because it’s like clearly people showing that they have issues and…I don’t know…maybe it’s because he wasn’t actively, you know, being a therapist in that moment. He was just another person, and he decided to not insert himself. I don’t know. But yeah…
James: I guess it’s not the best situation to insert yourself. Like, it’s not that he’s going to be able to do that much.
James: You know, it’s their house and…he’s more…after this kind of situation goes down, he’s there to talk about it rather than intervene.
Luke: How did you feel about Hank Baskett’s jersey being swapped to DeSean Jackson’s jersey?
James: So, this is a whole…this has a whole different meaning to me at this point because, like, at the time…you know, DeSean Jackson, you know one of the fastest receivers in the NFL, and like great player. And then he came to Tampa and he’s had some ups and some really, really lows. Some bottoming lows. But I think it was cool because, at the time, when he was on the Eagles, he was like the guy. DeSean Jackson was like the up and comer. He was a great talent. Super-fast. And, I mean, he’s an exciting player, so for him to be like, “DeSean Jackson is the man,” it totally makes sense. But I have all this Buccaneers baggage with him now.
Luke: Do you think they made that change because the name is more recognizable, maybe?
James: I thought that it was because, with the value of hindsight, they were just able to look and find a player who would more match kind of the fan…like, the people who would be like, “Oh, that guy’s the man.” You know, he maybe meant a little more to the franchise at the time that this movie was coming out.
Luke: And it’s because they lost the symbolic angle because Hank Baskett was an undrafted rookie or something, who just barely made the team and was scrapping to have a place, and he was being outshined by this other guy, who was the more lauded draft pick. So, it mirrored our sort of underdog story we were getting with Pat. Whereas the DeSean Jackson story is not an underdog story. He was like first-round pick or something, so…It’s interesting. It’s because they dropped that element, and they just went like, “Eh, pick someone more recognizable who’s flashy,” and it would make sense that they…
James: For it to work. Because of dropping that, I think it definitely makes it work.
Luke: So, not only was Tiffany manipulating Pat, but we also see the father doing it. Which was sort of tragic, but also endearing in a way. Because, in one sense it felt like I genuinely believe he wanted to use football to connect with his son, and he felt like he had failed him in some ways, and he thought this could be one way we can actually bond. You see that he has a really touching moment where he comes to talk to him, right? And he wants him to go to the game. But then, it’s immediately revealed that he’s betting all this money on the game, and he believes that he is this, like, good luck charm. And then it feels like this is all just manipulation, and it’s all selfish. So, I don’t know, what was your read on that? Do you think he was genuine, or do you think it was just more him being manipulative?
James: I think it’s both, you know. I think it’s somebody grappling with a disease while, at the same time, realizing that, like…I mean, the things that were heartfelt in there were the fact that maybe he is realizing he wasn’t there for one of his sons as much he was there for the other, and just kind of realizing that maybe he exacerbated some of his conditions, or at least made it worse for him having those conditions. But, real quick, I have a little fun fact that I found. I saw an interview, and the director was talking about how Robert DeNiro…they never had anything about him crying in the script or anything like that, and they just basically had him saying, like, all of that stuff and having a heartfelt moment, but Robert DeNiro took the initiative to really, like, you know, begin crying and…
Luke: Oh, and that sells that scene, man. That’s the only reason I believe it. Because those tears felt real. Felt genuine.
James: And the director said that he and Bradley like, after that scene, just looked at each other and were like, “What just…” They were in the presence of, you know, God in their eyes. Like, this guy who has just been in some cinematic…like, you know, huge moments in cinema.
Luke: We just saw him as Vito Corleone in our Godfather coverage.
Luke: A much younger Robert DeNiro.
James: Yeah, so welcome back to DeNiro for this role.
Luke: Yeah, that moment, and there’s the moment after the dance, which we’re about to get into. So, let’s get the final bit of plot.
James: Pat, Tiffany, and everyone else arrive at the competition on the night of the football game. Tiffany is horrified to discover that Nikki is in the audience. Upset that Pat may win Nikki back and that she may lose him, Tiffany goes to the bar and has two vodkas. A frantic Pat spots her and manages to coax her onto the dance floor, and they begin their routine. As they dance, the Eagles win their game, and at the conclusion of their set, they score exactly 5 points. Amid cheers from his family and confused looks from the crowd, Pat approaches Nikki and speaks quietly into her ear. Tiffany storms off. Pat leaves Nikki behind after only a short conversation, intent on finding Tiffany. He chases after her and tells her he knows that she forged Nikki’s letter. He confesses he loved her from the moment he met her but has taken a long time to realize it, and they kiss. They become a couple, and Pat Sr. opens a restaurant with the money he has won.
Luke: Yeah, so make sure you make huge bets that very easily could ruin you, kids.
James: That’s another…he’s got a couple of personality things, right? So, he’s got the OCD, as well as a gambling problem…clearly.
Luke: Yeah, so let’s back up a little bit. The setup of the dance as being the sort of the fulcrum of the story and being the final big moment is a clever one. I think that really works. Because, in the book, it was, like, staggered. We had the dance, but then we also had this big confrontation about the lying that was also…he got mugged, and like weird things with that. So, I think it was better to kind of unify these two moments, and then bringing Nikki to the actual dance was really…I think a stroke of genius. And I think it adds so much tension to the scene. We see Tiffany sort of backsliding. We want to tell Tiffany, like, “It’s going to be okay,” but then we don’t even really know because we’re not sure what that’s going to do to Pat, so yeah, it just creates this big, dramatic stew that is exciting and fun to watch.
James: Yeah, I agree. This is the shift that I was talking about. We kind of fully shift into her perspective. Like, the film becomes hers for this time…from the time she kind of is on her own and nervous, but then when she sees Nikki and everything that carries on through, it’s really just her…like you said, she’s backsliding and dealing with a lot of stuff. She’s, like, talking to the guy at the bar, which…to just mention that real quick…I hated how skeevy…like, that was super cringy to me. The cop, for one, when he was like…
Luke: Oh, yeah!
James: And then this guy, and it just kept happening, and I was just like, “Oh, this is so brutal.”
Luke: Yeah, the cop was really inappropriate. Because I did not see that from that character. Because when he was, like, “Oh, you were…” Because, in the book, her husband was a cop. Is that true in the movie?
James: I think so.
Luke: Was it? Okay. Because he knows her husband, and I just thought he was going to be, like, “Oh my God,” you know, “He was such a good guy” or whatever. But then he hits on her and…that was a different scene. It is very, very cringy.
James: Yeah, so just like that shift into Tiffany’s perspective in this last area, I think we got to know her character really well and kind of understand her from the scenes that we had with her, but this was her moment to basically just take over the movie and, like…
Luke: Well, and we show…her insecurities come to the fore here, too, right?
Luke: And her feelings of self-worth and all that. And, yeah, backsliding into her own ways. Going to, you know, talk to some guy at the bar and…I like to see that, too, because it shows that she’s a character with her own issues, and isn’t perfect, but endearing in a way, too. You know? So, that was so cool. And, then, yeah, I wanted to say about the dancing…I really liked that the bar was, like, a 5. Because I think they realized that…in the book, I think they kill it. They do like a crazy awesome performance, and I’m like…people could learn that, but it…I feel like dancers, it’s like a life-long pursuit to be really amazing at this sort of thing.
James: Not to mention you have to be super-talented. It’s like a mixture of those two things. You know, I could believe they could do it after, you know, five years of training but, yeah…I think it was cool to have the bar at 5. How did you feel…I kind of wanted them to get like a 5.2. Like having it be a perfect 5 is just, eh, okay.
Luke: It was fine. I mean, yeah, 5.1 or 5.2 would have been fine as well. Maybe a little more, like…it’s because they wanted all the other judges to be under 5, and they wanted that one to come in…it was funny. And the dance itself was really entertaining, but it also did feel more like a 5. Obviously, we see they mess up the big moment, right?
James: Well, I love the Singing in the Rain part, right? And that was like a callback. They were watching the Singing in the Rain dance scene on her phone, and they had that in their actual dance, and then they…
Luke: Oh, that happened several different times, yeah.
James: And then they switch it to that song. I can’t think of what it is right now, but I really like that song. It turns into, like, a rock song and they’re dancing around, they’re jumping around and stuff.
Luke: Yeah, yeah. And it’s cool, too, because they also do it just enough to establish what kind of competition this is, and what kind of dancing we’re seeing, so we can feel that when they’re doing this, it is way inappropriate for this dance. Nobody else is doing this sort of dance. It was also kind of over-the-top sexy, which we know is like Danny’s influence on it, too, right? And so all this stuff was cool, and you had to have the one judge who gave them a little bit of credit, maybe, for some of that stuff.
James: And if you notice, that was the harshest judge on everyone else.
Luke: Yeah, exactly.
James: And then she gave the highest of the scores. So, it’s just one of those feel-good moments.
Luke: Yeah, it was cool. It worked, and then I like how that became more of a focal point than the Eagles. Like, the Eagles won, yeah, it was just kind of a forgettable thing. Well, not forgettable. The moment was not super-important, as much as it was the dance, which is what…the key. And everything rode on that moment. Had to deliver. And there were no stakes like that for the dance in the book. The only stakes there were personal, right?
Luke: There was no bet. So, that was a big change. Oh, and then one of my favorite moments. So, I loved this moment, and it’s interesting because I’m trying to figure out why I love it so much. But after the dance ends, Pat’s father sees Tiffany run out, and he understands what happens. He understands that Pat talked to Nikki, and then he saw Tiffany run out, and he’s like, “Oh my gosh, she’s really upset, and he needs to go after her.” And so he has this heart-to-heart moment with him when he comes over, where he has this speech about, “There are moments in life where you have to act,” and I can’t remember exactly what he says, but he’s really serious, and he’s like, “I’m giving you…I’m being a father right now, and I’m telling you, son, you need to do this.” And we know. Or we later know…I feel like we kind of suspect that Pat already knows that. He already knows he needs to be this way, and he knows…he’s already given up on Nikki, but I feel like in this moment, his father isn’t sure of that. So, anyway, I feel like, in retrospect, he’s telling Pat some stuff he already knows, but just the act of him doing that is so emotional for me. Like, it was really cool to see that character and Robert DeNiro be fatherly in that moment. I think he really killed that performance in that moment. Yeah, I just remember that being really powerful.
James: I want to mention with that the shift in Pat, with Bradley Cooper just like…there’s like that confidence that came in and the realization, and basically over that week, he had written a letter the week before, and he realized that Tiffany wrote the Nikki letter. And so, it was like him finally finding himself, and his arc was completing, but the way that he goes to get her when she’s at the bar and pulls her onstage, and once he goes out there to chase after her…just the shift in his character…while she was reverting, he was kind of completing his arc of the character, and I just thought that was really cool. Especially because we kind of get away from his perspective and go more toward her perspective, so we don’t see the full change through his perspective. We’re kind of just there for it, and I thought that was a cool way to play with the two characters and, like, where they’re at.
Luke: Speaking of perspectives, we don’t get the conversation between Pat and Nikki. It’s just…he kind of whispers something in her ear, but you don’t get it.
James: What do you think he says?
Luke: So…so, not only what do you think he said, but why did we not get it in the movie? I definitely have my thoughts about it, but…
James: To build the drama, right? Because it’s like, if he right away was saying, “I’m so happy to see you, I love you,” all this stuff, then we wouldn’t know…because, I mean it’s for that big reveal where he’s like, “I wrote the letter two weeks ago, it’s been you for a long time, but I just had to convince myself.”
Luke: So, just to keep the mystery alive?
James: Yeah, to keep that tension basically there.
Luke: Well, okay, I think it does serve that purpose. I would contend that there’s another reason. And the other reason, to me, is that this story is not about them. It’s not about their relationship, and where that gets left is not integral to this story, even though we can kind of read between the lines. This story is about him and Tiffany. And, I think, to give us that conversation might shift the focus a little bit in a way that wasn’t appropriate. Like, I think he could have done it, and another movie might have done it. But I think it was a smart decision, because withholding that scene makes sure we have no illusions about who this movie is about. And it’s about Tiffany and Pat, right? But then it also does preserve the mystery, so I think it does work on both levels.
James: I like that…if we get that…it’s not even necessarily relationships in my eyes. Like, if we went over…Because the movie started out as Pat’s perspective, and we’re kind of getting that for the most part. If we get that scene, and we hear from his perspective all the things that are being said, you’re right, it takes away from the Tiffany and Pat relationship, but it’s also like, when that shift happened, into Tiffany’s story in my eyes, a little bit, for us to switch back to Pat and then have his…you know what I mean? It became their story very quickly after Pat realized…
Luke: So, what do you think he said to her?
James: I mean, I think it probably had something to do with…he basically just said, like, “You mean so much to me, and I’ll always care for you,” and all that stuff, but basically I’ve got to move on and go my own path. And then I think she was just okay with it and surprised at where he ended up.
Luke: Maybe he was actually saying, like, “Mumble, mumble, I’ll meet you over at the snack table later. I heard they have donuts.”
James: Yeah. I think he just went up in her ear and was just very slowly, like, “Fffffuuuuck yoooouuuu, Nikki.”
Luke: <laughs> No, I was joking that he wasn’t saying anything because, you know, movie magic.
Luke: But, for the character, I think you’re right. I think it is something, and I think we’re supposed to read between the lines that it’s something matter-of-fact, like “I wish you well.” Because it didn’t seem like he told her off. She wasn’t, like, mad. She was just kind of sad about it, and I think it was, like, “I thought I really cared about you, but it turns out I actually care about somebody else.” Something like that. So, maybe better than she deserved for how despicable her actions had been in the past, but who knows? Once again, we don’t really get her perspective, either.
James: It’s also got an underlying message of forgiveness, I think, throughout the movie.
James: Forgiveness he gives to her, and, yeah, I think that’s part of it there.
Luke: Just real quick, I wanted to say this movie had a sort of troubling anti-medication theme. Throughout the movie, like, they…all the characters should be on medication, have been prescribed medication, but don’t take them. Now, everybody is going to have different reactions to this, but my wife is a pharmacist, and we were talking about it as we were watching it, and the medications they’re talking about are accurate. Some of the side effects are accurate, and it’s fine to resist it or to say, “I don’t think I should be as medicated as I am,” but we also are seeing characters that need to be on medication because a lot of them have chemical imbalances. And it’s not because, you know, neuro atypicality needs to be medicated away, it’s more that it’s affecting their lives in a negative fashion, and medication can help them level out in a way that will help their lives and make their lives better. And it just felt to me like, I don’t know, there’s kind of a pop culture mentality of “all medication is bad.” And I think that kind of thinking can be detrimental and can make people resist seeing help when they desperately need it.
James: So, something interesting. And, like, I agree with what you’re saying. Certain people are able to live more…are able to have a higher quality of life on medication. So, when I was a kid I was diagnosed with ADHD and I had to take medication for a while. And even as a kid I realized…I don’t know the technical stuff about if I was being overmedicated or what it was…but I was legitimately diagnosed with it. And I was prescribed medication and, over time, I just realized I didn’t like how it made me feel. I didn’t like that I was…like, I had no appetite. There were a lot of factors there. And as a young kid, as like a really young teenager, I took it upon myself to slowly wean myself off it, and I haven’t taken medication in, like, over…it’s gotta be like 15 years now. It was originally because of that attention deficit in school, and the teachers were…I was too rambunctious, or you know, those kinds of things when people diagnose…and I don’t know. So, it’s really interesting because maybe I’m just day-to-day coping with it, but I also have something where I…I didn’t enjoy being on medication, so I kind of have this…I understand where these characters are coming from a little bit.
Luke: Absolutely. And that shows the other side of it. That I do think overmedicating is a problem, and I think doctors can be too quick to prescribe…or maybe like prescribe and forget. Like, “I’ve prescribed this for you so now you’re just going to be on it forever,” versus like, “Hey, let’s see if we can…do you still need it? Let’s try going down on it.” Because I do think…I like the idea that a goal should be to be on as few medications as necessary, right? You should be trying to reduce to the bare minimum. But it’s like one of these things where there’s like two sides to it, and…I don’t know, I guess it works for the movie, but I just wanted to say that I do think that feeling like all medication is bad for people who need it…it can also be a problem because some people, it really helps them. And you shouldn’t feel…because I feel like people might feel ashamed of that. Like, people might feel like, “The fact that I take medication to live my life and be happy, that’s not an authentic experience, and I shouldn’t do it. Because that’s what these movies are telling me.” And I think that’s sad, and I think that is not true. And I think people should embrace the fact that there is something that can help them have a higher quality of life.
James: Definitely. And, like, just in terms of being able to focus and stuff, there’s definitely times I’ve struggled with that. Not as much recently, but like in high school and college, there were times when I realized I’m coping with it on a day-to-day basis. And just to say that obviously these people in this film are dealing with something far different than ADHD, so it’s kind of like you have to understand your disease and kind of, like, understand what the medication can help with and what it can hinder, and so….yeah, I don’t want to put out a message of anti-medication, either. I just wanted you to kind of get my viewpoint on it.
Luke: No, no. Like I said, there’s two sides to it. And we see in this movie people with different sorts of, um, you know, atypical mindsets and of varying degrees. And we talked about that in the book, right? How lots of different people had their own separate issues. So, you know, it’s all…this movie is clearly talking about mental health and talking about being atypical in your thought processes and being okay with that. Which I fully support. As long as it’s not a huge detriment to your life that can be solved by you not having too much pride to take some medication. But, yeah, I think that’s a great spot to leave this. I really enjoyed this movie and this project, so big shout-out to Steven E. Thank you so much for being a Jukebox Hero, and we’re excited to see what you’re going to spend your next tokens on if you stay at that level. Which, by the way, I wanted to say, if anybody wanted to look into that and they wanted to earn some tokens for a project, then the felt like, “Ah, I don’t know if I’m going to want to keep up,” you can just do that. You can just earn enough to get the thing you want and then go back down to a different level or completely stop being a Patreon—up to you. It’s a good way to actually have some control and to say, “Hey, I want you guys to cover this thing.” That’s the way you can do it. We built it into the Patreon. But we also have other reward tiers where you just get access to our bonus content, which we have nine episodes up now. And all of that stuff. You can check it out on Patreon.com/InkToFilm.
James: Right, so I have one more thing that I want to talk about, but I think we should wait until the very end to talk about.
Luke: Oh yeah, because I trampled all over it. <laughs>
James: No, no, no. Basically it’s kind of…this movie is about the Philadelphia Eagles, and they recently won a Super Bowl, and I just want to tell you about the legacy of this film with kind of that in mind.
Luke: Okay, interesting.
James: So, if you want to hear about that, stick around for the end.
Luke: Yeah, if you’d like to connect with us online, we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @InkToFilm on all three. Our group on Facebook is The Council of Inklings. We like to put up polls on there to determine future projects, things like that. So, absolutely join us on there. That’s going to be, like, the hub of activity for this podcast, I think.
James: Also, if you want to help out the podcast in another way besides Patreon, you could leave a rating or review on iTunes or Spotify, Google Play, anywhere you listen to the podcast. Because that helps get our name out there and get more eyes, or ears, on the podcast.
Luke: Thank you to Jennifer Della’Zanna, who is doing the transcripts for us now, and if you need transcripts done for your projects, definitely reach out to her. She’s great.
James: Yeah, thanks again, Jen. [Ed. note – You’re very welcome!] We want to thank Ross Bugden for the use of our intro and outro music.
Luke: All right, man, so hit me up with this last Eagles factoid you had.
James: Okay, so this is pretty fun. So, Bradley Cooper is actually a Philly fan in real life. He’s an Eagles fan. So, before and during the February 4, 2018 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence received media attention for their continued support of the Eagles and their connection to Eagle fandom via this movie. Cooper attended the game and was often shown on camera with the commentators reminding viewers of his Philadelphia upbringing and his role as an Eagles superfan in Silver Linings Playbook. And multiple media outlets reported that Jennifer Lawrence was on a Delta Airlines flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles on Superbowl Sunday when she led the passengers in a cheer for the Eagles over the plane’s loudspeaker. The Eagles ultimately won their first-ever Superbowl, beating the Patriots 41–33
Luke: Yeah, wow. There you go. So, maybe they are good luck. <laughs> All right, that’s cool. We hope you come back next week with us for Jesus’ Son. It’s going to be…we haven’t done this kind of literary book like this, so I’m excited to do it and see what our conversation is going to be like for that one. We hope you join us for that. Until next time…
James: Thanks for listening.