Thanksgiving weekend saw the wide release of The Silver Linings Playbook, a film based on the popular novel written by Oaklyn native Matthew Quick and set in Collingswood.
The story is anchored by the neighborhoods of South Jersey and the rooting interests of its residents. In keeping with that community spirit, Collingswood Patch sought out some folks with close connections to the source material to see what they thought of seeing Silver Linings on the silver screen.
Still rooting for them
“When you read a book that you absolutely love, you just don’t want the movie to disappoint,” wrote Gina Horlacher, above whose shop, , Quick lived while writing the story.
“The only thing that could have made that movie better was if they actually shot it in Collingswood, where the book takes place.”
Horlacher went into the movie unsure of how much of the story could change in the telling, she told Patch in an email. That just made her root for the protagonists Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) all over again.
“Anyone who has ever had to deal with something painful in their life can relate to these two just trying to find their way,” Horlacher wrote. “Sometimes all it takes is someone who understands you and loves you for who you are.”
'A lot was at stake'
Horlacher wasn’t the only one who entered the theater with heady expectations.
Quick himself told Patch that he first took in the film at a private screening in Tribeca, with representatives from producers the Weinstein Company watching to see his reactions.
Heart pounding and fists clenched, “I felt a lot of pressure watching the first 20 minutes or so,” Quick wrote to Patch in an email. “A lot was at stake.”
Even though he was prepped personally before the screening by director David O. Russell, it took some time for the writer to ease into the movie.
“What surprised me most was how much [Russell] wanted me to like the film,” Quick said. “It was very important to him.
“As we talked, I realized that Pat's story and especially the subject of mental health were extremely personal to him, as they are to me,” he said.
Finally, about 20 minutes in, the author found himself relaxing and watching the movie.
“That's when I knew we had something special,” Quick said.
Community gets you through
Collingswood novelist Evan Roskos befriended Quick through a pair of former students (both he and Quick were teachers at the time) while each was writing his story.
Roskos has taught The Silver Linings Playbook to college students at Rutgers and Rowan universities, and agrees that Russell’s faithfulness to those core issues of the story make his adaptation compelling.
“[Quick] is very devoted to increasing the conversation in the public sphere about mental health so it’s no longer a topic of shame and it’s not a simplified topic,” Roskos said. “It’s one of the reasons I actually think the film is successful in its adaptation.”
Roskos said the movie is “a little more optimistic” than the book—a concession to movie audiences needing “a sense of joy and entertainment”—and that the titular silver linings it depicts “suggest that there are ways to get through” feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation.
“In the book it’s that the community you create can help you get through,” he said. “I think Russell picks up on the idea that if you want to change yourself, you also have to change your relationships with people.”
'A new way to prosper'
That’s also why place features so prominently in the story, Roskos said. Cooper’s character has been away from his hometown for four years, and when he returns, must develop new coping mechanisms to adapt to its changes.
“Matt’s initial use of Collingswood is one of those things that lit professors love, where the setting informs the characters’ growth,” Roskos said. “When he leaves, the Eagles are at the Vet; he comes back and they’re at Lincoln Financial.
“Just like Collingswood had to find a new way to kind of prosper, what the book does is shows Pat returning to a place that was his home and is no longer familiar, and he has to figure out a way to embrace it,” he said.
By transferring the location of the story to Philadelphia, Roskos said, Russell’s interpretation doesn’t lose that sense of change; rather, he said, it uses the city as a framework upon which to overlay the tones of the shifting relationship between Pat and his father (Robert DeNiro).
Since so much of that relationship is connected with the characters' devotion to the Philadelphia Eagles, Roskos said, “that’s kind of the structure; not in a limiting way, but in a very authentic way.”
“If you’re familiar with the Eagles, you read that book, and you know that season,” he said.
Plenty of Easter eggs
And if you’re familiar with South Jersey, Quick said—like the Philadelphia Film Festival audience with whom he screened it was—there are plenty of “Easter eggs” in the movie.
Horlacher and her husband, Ken, decided to follow up their screening with a trip to the Crystal Lake Diner—where Pat and Tiffany spend their first date in the story—and “joked about how we felt the urge to order bran flakes and tea, as they did in the movie.”
Completing their post-moviegoing experience, however, Gina Horlacher said, was a moment of kismet.
The television in the diner was broadcasting a medley performance from Stevie Wonder at the American Music Awards, and “all of a sudden he started singing ‘My Cherie Amour,’ an important song in the movie,” she wrote.
“We couldn’t believe it! Still can’t believe!”
For Quick, who now resides in New England—but has driven 10 hours round-trip to every home game during this dreadful season—all that magic “does take some of the sting out of this team gone horribly bad,” he wrote.
“Hopefully it will look beautiful next season, but right now...it ain't so pretty,” Quick wrote.
“But we keep rooting, we keep believing, because that's what Philly people do.”