• R, 2 hr. 2 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:
    David O. Russell
    In Theaters:
    Nov 21, 2012 Wide
    On DVD:
    Apr 30, 2013
  • The Weinstein Company

Treatment of Bipolar in this movie

I've read a lot (not all) of the posts on this site and it seems like a common element that is missing is how bipolar disease impacts the movie. I am 54 yrs old and have Type II Bipolar disease (more depressive and occasional manic swings but not wild swings). To me, even though the movie had a Hollywood storybook ending for entertainment value, there were a lot of nuances relating to bipolar that wouldn't be obvious to those who aren't familiar with the disease. This had an impact on making this a non-traditional romantic comedy, which made the movie different than a number of people were expecting. Here are some tidbits of bipolar and how they are intertwined into the movie: (1) bipolar is a chemical imbalance that you are born with, it usually presents itself in your teens, and you often don't know the true diagnosis until in your 30's or 40's, often after something dramatic has happened; (2) unlike one of the posts that said Bradley Cooper wasn't believable because he didn't look "crazy enough," bipolar doesn't produce people looking like Jack Nicholson in The Shining--they are everyday looking people who are just wired differently and act differently; in fact, we are good at making an effort to "look normal" because we try quite hard at it; We know inside that we are different than others, but we look at how other ?normal people? look and dress and try to be like them; (3) bipolar people wreak havoc upon families, loved ones, co-workers and most other people around them; they lose their jobs, spouses, etc.; This is very common and part of the early part of the film; It didn't happen to me because I "worked on things" to stay within the white lines of life; I have a wife, three kids, own my own business, etc. For many undiagnosed bipolar people, they are somewhat functioning in society but labeled "difficult to deal with and be around"; (5) it is not unusual for bipolar relationships to lack "chemistry"; these are typically socially awkward people who try hard to be normal but it isn't always a smooth ride; and (6) as far as the storybook ending, sure the movie was fantasy, but where it fits into bipolar is that people with this disease wander through life with a lot of ups and downs and are searching for meaning. When they find it, especially with someone they enjoy, then they are "all in" and it becomes meaningful to them even if it isn't meaningful to others. The movie wasn?t traditional as far as movies go, but it was pretty good at depicting the dysfunction that goes on in the life of a bipolar person. I enjoyed this fantasy very much. Finally, SORRY ABOUT THE LONG POST!!!
Happy Guy
02-9-2013 06:32 AM

Thread Replies

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Tom K.

Tom Kneller

You took time to analyse Frank, but this movie was not good enough.

Jun 19 - 11:53 PM

Billy N.

Billy Nolan

yes overrated.

Jun 19 - 11:23 PM

Mike C.

Mike C

ONLY PROBLEM - OVERRATED. Ok, you think it's so good because it is a little offbeat? Do you know how many amazing movies are out there that are 'offbeat'?
92%? My god, it should be at maximum only 50%.

Jun 19 - 10:40 PM

Patricia Dennison

Patricia Dennison

What's new Hollywood (The bad part of it)? Tackled the issue of Homosexuality, now going for mental health issues like Bi-Polar Syndrome are we? Way to go with making films that generalize, attempts to be different, yet really ends up all the same.
WEll, guess you try to find any way of making money right. What a box office hit that you made ! Now I understand!! Generalizing and ignorance is the way to go!! (Not)

Jun 19 - 01:26 AM

Asher Port

Asher Port

I know this movie promotes a positive message of strength and change, dealing with problems in life or living with it, but to say it depicts any form of bi-polar syndrome in any way even remotely realistic.. is somewhat disrespectful. This movie also relied heavily on the chemistry of the actors, and a couple of scenes incorporating drama, apart from that...
FAR FAR FAR from reality = this movie. Middle of the movie has some highlights. Mild beginning, typical ending.

Jun 19 - 12:31 AM

Patricia Dennison

Patricia Dennison

I AGREE!!! My god, thank you.

Jun 19 - 01:23 AM

Mike C.

Mike C

Absolutely so. People are saying, you think the ending is typical because it's happy. No, that's not the problem, the problem is the cut to the chase type ending, the cliched ending.

Jun 19 - 10:37 PM

Mike C.

Mike C

Great message asher.

Jun 19 - 10:37 PM

Asher Port

Asher Port

You don't have to have any form of bi-polar syndrome to be depressed, or manic. In the film Pat is described as undiagnosed bi-polar. Pat is someone who had his wife cheat on him, and the guy told him from the shower that he should "probably leave". You're telling me that you wouldn't be angry if that happened to you? The only issue with pat is that he can get overly angry. Apart from that the movie does not specifically show anything particular which suggests pat is bi-polar. He's either acting normal, or acting depressed, angry and sensitive due to the effects of the affair. The movie did have somewhat of a typical hollywood romance ending. Dysfunction in life can happen to anyone, usually after some traumatic event. Do not think that just by watching this film, then realizing you have similarities with some characters, you are ultimately bi-polar.

Jun 19 - 12:23 AM

Asher Port

Asher Port

No one ever said that having bi-polar syndrome of any form means you have to act like a psycho. But just because you have and experience normal emotions like anger, depression, while other times you are happy does not make YOU BI-POLAR.
Pat in silver linings playbook - undiagnosed, not bi-polar at all in the sense. If he was bi-polar, then we can all be somewhat labelled Bi-polar, whether it be type I, II, etc.
Jack Nicholson in the shining - that has nothing to do with bi-polar, whatsoever. Whoever mentioned that, seriously? You are utterly confused.

Jun 19 - 01:03 AM

Pat Mackie

Pat Mackie

To say you would see all the effects of bipolar disorder within the amount of time that movie takes place, it would have to be ultra rapid cycling which is very uncommon. Clearly he was in a manic episode with the amount he obsessed over his wife forgiving him and ignoring all the rational facts. He broke his restraining, stopped taking his meds, up all ours of the night obsessing and rambling about little things, got in a fight with his parents, panic attacks induced by triggers. The only things he didn't do like me when I'm manic is lots of drugs and sex.

Jul 9 - 01:01 PM

Julie Shaw

Julie Shaw

Frank M - Thank you. I watched the movie with my significant other. I've been through a complex relationship with a man who was severely bipolar and at the end of the movie I simply had to tell my significant other, "THAT is what I lived with for 2 years". I believe the director is bipolar?

Jun 14 - 06:19 AM

Asher Port

Asher Port

The director is not bi-polar, his son is. That's the thing, there are many forms of bi-polar and in all honesty, Pat's character is someone who has been through sadness and trauma. He is not someone (a normal person) who is particularly relateable to any form of bi-polar. Pat does not swing between extreme moods, he mostly displays only anger, depression and sensitivity, obsession, and that is due to his wife's affair. That's the difference between Pat and someone with any form of bi-polar syndrome.

Jun 19 - 12:38 AM

Pat Mackie

Pat Mackie

Most people with bipolar do not have extreme mood swings. in fact most only have 1-2 manic episodes a year lasting from a few weeks to a few months depending on severity. Assuming it took him three months, it's not absurd to say he was in a manic episode.

Jul 9 - 01:05 PM

Deborah  P.

Deborah Puerini

My sister is textbook bipolar and this movie gob smacked me...my mom was the Robert DeNiro...shows exactly the turmoil manic-depression (old but more descriptive) foists upon everyone who is touched by it experiences. What is the music that is playing when they are walking Halloween?

May 20 - 07:30 AM

Scottie Starlitsky

Scottie Starlitsky

Get Shazam ap, it will tell you the name of the music.

Jul 4 - 03:32 AM

Livvy Hill

Livvy Hill

Frank, brilliant post. I am wondering if you could help me. I am writing my University dissertation about mental health representations within the media focusing strongly on Bipolar, and using this film as one of my main case studies. I would really appreciate it if I could discuss this topic further with you for my research. Hope to hear back from you soon.

Apr 24 - 04:01 PM

Joseph McCabe

Joseph McCabe

As a fellow traveler with Frank M.,I could quibble a tin bit but ,buddy,you've basically nailed it.

Mar 23 - 02:14 PM

Matt S.

Matt Smith

Very insightful posts on this link (amazing for a message board). I as well am afflicted with bipolar II diagnosed only about a year ago. Even though I'm in the medical profession, it certainly turned my life upside down and I'm still trying to right the ship. I saw this movie a couple months ago and thought it was absolutely fantastic- it also started a new love affair with Jennifer Lawrence. Cooper and Lawrence do a fantastic job of portraying mental illness I felt. So many movies in the past about psychiatric issues are like Jack Nicholson in One Fell Over the CooCoo's Nest--- the character is completely off the deep end. While this can clearly happen in real life, the vast majority of people live somewhere between excellent control and moderate issues.

The ability of this movie to shed so much light on mental illness but at the same time show it is not the end of things was fantastic. They found happiness and love, albeit awkwardly at times. They developed or maintained family relationships. It was amazing to see both sides presented in such a believable way.

Mar 20 - 11:30 PM

Asher Port

Asher Port

The thing is, having moderate issues does not equal that someone has any from of bi-polar syndrome. On the other hand, having extreme issues most likely means you have some form of mental illness.
Moderate issues is when someone is.. sometimes angry, sometimes happy, excited, sometimes depressed. Everyone experiences that, it is called emotions.
People with bi-Polar can relate to other people at times in everyday life, people in everyday life cannot always relate to people with bi-polar.
The problem with this movie is that it makes normal people with normal emotions feel like now they may have some form of bi-polar or mental illness.

Jun 19 - 12:51 AM

Asher Port

Asher Port

"While this can clearly happen in real life, the vast majority of people live somewhere between excellent control and moderate issues.

The ability of this movie to shed so much light on mental illness", this is your quote I'm replying to.
This movie does not shed SO MUCH LIGHT, it sheds little light while trying to be general so most PEOPLE can relate in some way. It is Hollywood's approach to it. The book somewhat sheds a bit more light.

Jun 19 - 12:55 AM

Jeffrey Carter

Jeffrey Carter

Ric, About anti seizure meds. I take them for fibromylagia and anxiety and it is my rough understanding that they work for me by 'dialing down' the electric activity of the brain in general (and specifically for those with seizures, which are an uncontrolled burst of electrical activity), leaving me in a state less sensitive to the bullying of my disease, and thereby less troubled by it as well. I am not familiar with its use for bipolar disease, but you know it might be working for you in a similar fashion. Doctors are finding more off label uses for these meds all the time, by the way.

Feb 24 - 07:34 PM

Ric Studer

Ric Studer

Although not perfect by any means the depiction of Bi-Polar Disorderin this film comes the closest of any I have experienced (and of course there haven't been many because it isn't a very "sexy" subject.) Pat obviously has Bi-Polar I with rapid cycling. The discovery of his disorder in the film is quite accurate. Many who suffer are not diagnosed until they wind up in prison or in trouble with the law. As a person with Type II bi-Polar perhaps I have a skewed point of view regarding this film but for me it was most definitely not a romantic comedy. I have not read the book and I don't know how it resolves but I feel Russell felt he had to add the trad rom com ending in order for the audience not to be severely depressed at the revelation of the pain and devastation mental illness causes for the immediate circle around a victim and yes, even many ancillary people in their lives. While my Bi-polar II never got me in jail it did help me destroy 2 marriages, 1 relationship with a son and subsequent grandson, several jobs, and countless friendships. To be honest there weren't many friendships to lose. Normally only stubborn people with remarkably strong constitutions were ever able to bore through the steel wall I erected to keep people from finding out. I have read people talking about treatment with anti-depressants. I wonder what sort of Doctors you are seeing. Anti-depressants quite often bump a person up into a constant manic state, which is painfully hard to maintain and will always lead to some dangerous breakdown and/or major acting out. I have tried many drug cocktails and with the constant tweaking by my very astute and empathic psychiatrist have finally settled on a combination of Lamictal and Trileptal. I will be very interested to know why anti seizure medication works well at managing certain types of Bi-Polar. It is my understanding that this is not currently well known. If anyone has any insight into that please let me know. Back to the film. I felt the rom com aspect of the film, especially the obligatory tied up with a bow happy ending, was a ruse to get people to get a glimpse into a world where people are sensitive and intelligent and highly capable but clearly out of sync with civilized society. To my mind there is a similarity here to Asperger's, with the difference being that Asperger's brings trouble with processing stimulus and Bi-Polar creates trouble through processing too much stimulus. The acting here is outstanding, one of the best examples of ensemble acting I have seen in quite awhile. And Jennifer Lawrence continues to amaze. She has been hit with the Meryl Streep stick, portraying virtually any role she tackles with a facile skill that belies her years. She will be on top of the heap for a very long time. DeNiro is DeNiro and his intensity reminded me of Travis Bickle from his early days. I have respectfully asked my daughter to watch this film, as I have never been able to adequately describe who I was when her mother could no longer deal with me. She was 3 years old. I think it might open a door for her, just a crack, into my reality of the past. My greatest joy in life is that I have had this curse managed well enough to be a good, if absent, father to her. I was not so lucky with my son, from the first destroyed marriage. There has been a lot of talk about mental illness in the wake oof the Newtown massacre and not all of it worthwhile. We need as much effort put into overcoming the social stigma of mental disorders as we try to put into issues of race, gender identity and women's equality. And this requires investment. Hopefully this film, which shows that people with mental disorders not only deserve love but are capable of meaningful love is a step in the right direction.

Feb 22 - 05:51 PM

Yvonne Lembo

Yvonne Lembo

Thanks so much for your long post, Frank. I'm the mother of a 23-year-old son diagnosed with bi-polar two years ago. I was drawn to this film because of its depiction of how a person and their family and friends try to learn how to live with bi-polar. I haven't seen the film yet, but your real-life comments have been so helpful. All the best to you and your family. May you experience many silver linings.

Feb 19 - 07:02 AM

Boxley Boggs

Boxley Boggs

Glad to see your post here, Yvonne. We could write a set of books that could be made into a series of movies about our experience with our bipolar son. There is just no way to describe the dramatic experiences we and our son have gone through or how much we have learned about mental illness. Am eager to see this movie.

Feb 22 - 07:02 PM

Gar Guddy

Gar Guddy

Being bipolar type 2, I must say the movie and acting, while not perfect, is the closest to my experience ever being revealed. It certainly provoked emotional feelings throughout the viewing, I almost got up to walk out, but..., having an excelsior moment, I remained. It was therapeutic to see myself at times. But, it also was idealized by actually having people around the actor who were supportive.

Most comments try to put more romantic comedy spin on it. True, but I see it DRIVEN by the angst of the mental illness that screams for recognition. These are not crazy people pretending to have fun. Please acknowledge that and understand the pain Pat and Tiffany, as well as the mother and DeNiro experience. Can't you see the pain and fear in their eyes? The humor is injected to help most people to relax..., but in reality it is rarely that funny.

That part was/is not realistic. Most people don't realize, because the label is hidden from them out of shame, embarrassment. Those who do know, especially family members don't want to say the word, because it will touch and stain them. The medication helps, as does the therapy, but..., it is what it is and most of 'us', are alone with it. We certainly don't bump chests with our therapist at tailgate parties, partly because some of us are too depressed and lack motivation and someone to pull and push us to attend. It is all messed up, I have held my head like Pat, when confronted with stressful and confusing situations, trying to get a grip and not lose it, which for me, was about backing off, before I did hurt someone.., in sometimes a rage. I will see it again and perhaps again and then again. It helps to confront one's demons!!!!!

Sorry to mess up funny, humor and romance everyone, but that is life and the human condition. See and feel the pain, help them, hold them, hug them, love them. They are you.., in the looking glass of life.
Gary Goody

Feb 16 - 01:19 PM

Yvonne Lembo

Yvonne Lembo

Thank you for your candid comments, Gar. Please see my response above to Frank. My 23-yr-old son was diagnosed with bipolar 2 yrs ago and lives with me now. YES! The words you've used -- shame, embarrassment, stressful, angst, pain, fear, screams for recognition, head in hands, confront one's demons, help, hold, hug, love --- that's for EVERYONE in the web, not just the one diagnosed, but all those of us who are part of each other's lives.

Feb 19 - 07:08 AM

Asher Port

Asher Port

When i say 'bi-polar', I'm condensing. I know there are many different kinds, so don't be offended.

Jun 19 - 01:17 AM

Asher Port

Asher Port

This movie basically sheds a tiny tiny bit of light on the issue on bi-polar, it really could have done better, it shows people's normal ranging emotions. It is at least good to know that this movie has a positive force which encourages people, like yourself, to see the best things in life, one of which is love/caring.
I'm still glad this forum started though.

Jun 19 - 01:15 AM

Patricia Dennison

Patricia Dennison

TO GAR GUDDY -Some of them don't want help. I agree with some of what you're saying,
The thing is, be caring and look out for them. Don't try to control them or tell them to go and 'get a life' or whatever.

Jun 19 - 01:30 AM

Patricia Dennison

Patricia Dennison

That's JUST IT!! THE HUMOR, THE GENERALIZING, the TYPICAL ENDING. All in all that is what brings this movie down!!!

Jun 19 - 01:32 AM

Alexandra Lord

Alexandra Lord

Hi Frank - I have yet to see the movie, but looked at your post due to the BPD reference. This is OFF topic related to the movie, but I have noticed that very few doctors will use lithium anymore. The person I an hoping to help sounds very much like you. In fact, if properly diagnosed, likely your description to a tee. Has been through the mill of typical anti-depressants,with or w/out the "newer" addons such as abilify, lamictal, etc. Would you mind sharing what has been helpful for you. I see so many people who really like lithium, but have been to many doctors and even pyschiatrists seem to want to use the newer ones instead? I was just hoping if you had some insight into helpful treatments. OR even those that were especially negative as often A/Ds can apparently make it worse. However, I see her mainly as quite depressed (low energy, self-esteem with very rare "manic" moments. I think it is the "manic" times that appear more "normal" to people. Also, has a great deal of anxiety and fear. I realize you are NOT a doctor, but seen MANY over MANY years, and seems the more we know going in, the better. Thus I just wondered what things you find helpful if you are willing to be so considerate to respond. I realize this does NOT have to do with the movie, so I APOLOGIZE! Thanks so much!

Feb 16 - 11:11 AM

Gar Guddy

Gar Guddy

I started with and remain on Lamictal to level the playing field. But, no joy is associated with it. So, I also take various combinations of effexor, seroquel to try and promote emotional feelings of happiness. Not too successful. Exercise is very important. That was portrayed well in the movie.

Feb 16 - 01:25 PM

Happy Guy

Frank M

Since this is off topic I will try to keep this short. As you know different medicines work for different people. Also some non-medical things are very important. For medicine I take max dose (400 mg) of Lamictal per day. Been on it for 6 or 7 years. It is not an add-on but a primary med. I believe lithium, seroquel, etc. are for true bipolar (deals with mania as well). Lamictal is great for bipolar II. For me in the non-meds area I gave up drinking alcohol 4 yrs ago and try to exercise regularly. Never felt better! Was a mild beer drinker but alcohol and BP are not a good combo due to the depressive nature of alcohol. Sorry to use up a movie board on this but you asked a question.

Feb 16 - 05:37 PM

Joseph McCabe

Joseph McCabe

To Alexandra Lord:This may sound cynical but it's not.Doctors don't get invited to all-expense paid "educational seminars" at resorts for prescribing Lithium.Li is a naturally occurring element.Li has worked very,very well for me for 23+ years.BUT,you must be absolutely sure your doctor prescribes the right dosage.That's true of all drugs,of course,but so few doctors now prescribe the drug mistakes are common.300 mgs.BID is common and works for me.I also take Lamictal and Depakote.All in all,they work well in combination for me,both as anti-Manic and as anti-Depressant.

Mar 23 - 02:28 PM

Eileen Wilkinson

Eileen Wilkinson

I really liked the movie, and I appreciate your explanation about how being bi-polar is portrayed. I though it was presented well.

Feb 16 - 09:01 AM

Rich Gehring Jr.

Rich Gehring Jr.

Not sure if this was the proper forum for this post, it's mainly supposed to be about reviews and conversations directly about the film. It's very informative, it's just kind of a waste of your time. You'll understand more of what I mean when you read the responses you get.

Feb 14 - 09:43 PM

Gar Guddy

Gar Guddy

Rich the point of the movie was to message, other then in a documentary format, the trials and tribulations of those who suffer with BPD 2. Any thread discussing that message is appropriate. Don't avoid the tough stuff because it makes you uncomfortable. Please help. Thanx.

Feb 16 - 01:27 PM

Rich Gehring Jr.

Rich Gehring Jr.

It doesn't make me uncomfortable it makes me annoyed.

Feb 22 - 10:52 PM

Happy Guy

Frank M

Actually my post was intended to comment on the film. Many of the other posts had people disappointed in the film because it wasn't the romantic comedy they were expecting to see on their date night. My message is that viewers who are not familiar with bipolar won't understand much of the story other than those people do some crazy things. It is an unconventional film because bipolar people do some unconventional, awkward and many times funny things. This wasn't a comedy about funny people doing funny things.

Feb 16 - 05:28 PM

Catharine Butterfield

Catharine Butterfield

Your post was very helpful. Thank you. We intend to see the movie, and now I think I will understand it better.

Feb 18 - 05:55 AM

Laura Balboni Craciun

Laura Balboni Craciun

It was very cathartic.

Feb 11 - 08:56 AM

Catalina Hall

Catalina Hall

Very well put. Your examples of BPD effects (and I use capitals, not lower case)is very clear. We don't want pity or sidelong looks wondering when we will explode we just want normalcy. Thank you.

Feb 10 - 11:55 AM

Happy Guy

Frank M

PS - I realize there are a lot of generalizations above and you can't generalize about a disease that affects millions. Many bipolar people are quite passionate (sometimes over the top); very smart and creative; if energy is really channeled, then quite productive. I was mainly commenting on how the bipolar aspect could make this movie halfway believable.

Feb 9 - 06:42 AM

Billy N.

Billy Nolan

I like how you put that specific Frank.

Jun 19 - 11:22 PM

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