The Oscars last night were, well, different from years past.
We can probably attribute that to the host; in the three-and-a-half-hour run time, there were plenty of surprises, albeit very few of those in who won what.
I was thrilled to see Jennifer Lawrence win best actress for her odd, alluring, heartbreaking and three-dimensional performance in Silver Linings Playbook; I was disappointed, however, that it was the sole statuette that the movie took home. Part of that’s a love for this town, and part of that is something considerably more.
Silver Linings Playbook certainly had a touch of the local, set and filmed in nearby Upper Darby, PA. Here's the thing, though: As many of you know, Oaklyn native Matthew Quick set the novel upon which the film is based right here in Collingswood. That's very much a point of local pride; you can read the book and picture Pat running down Haddon Ave. on a sleepy Sunday morning.
It is a huge pop culture moment that is very much born here, even if director David O. Russell rejiggered the exact Philly suburb to a different location. I moved to this town a year and a half ago because of the implacable magic here; that a novel with this breadth and depth is set in this place is somehow a validation of that same magic.
Here is my hope for this movie: It is very easy for the buzz to fall away the day after the Academy Awards, and for films so heavily lauded just a day before to fall into obscurity. This is a film that deserves far more than that, even beyond the borders of the town we love and call home. It's easy and dangerous to discount and condemn "issues" films for their source materials and the subjects they ask us, subtly or not, to champion.
But this is a film about mental illness, and otherness, and it’s many things beyond that; this is a film adapted from a book that began here (with pages written in our very own coffee shop, Grooveground, that has somehow opened up a conversation about how mental health attitudes work—or don’t work—in this country.
It is my fervent hope that this conversation does not fade with SLP’s Oscar dreams. We need to keep having the conversation about the treatment of mental illness, and how those who suffer from it often find their basic human dignities often compromised, in perception and otherwise.
My question to you, dear reader, is this: how do we accomplish this? How do you want to see this conversation continue? How does this film take part in it?