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The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va., Katie M column

May 5, 2013


May 05--ABOUT A WEEK AGO, I was debating whether to get a movie from Redbox to watch that night while I vegged on the couch.

"I don't know," I said to Lindsey as I was mulling the idea over. "I don't have the attention span for anything too complicated. I kind of just want something light."

To that end, I picked up a little indie called "Smashed," a dramedy about a co-dependent, alcoholic couple, and the havoc wreaked upon their relationship when one of them decides to become sober.

You know, "light."

Still, it's the closest I come to anything in the romantic comedy category, my disdain for fairy tales, paired with my penchant toward the morose making the genre unpalatable to me as a general rule.

Every once in awhile, however, there comes a film that tempts me to change my ways -- a movie that, while billed as a rom-com, shows some promise of delving beneath those pat Hollywood meet-cute, finish-blissful offerings.

The latest example of that being, "Silver Linings Playbook," starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as two people suffering from depression and/or bipolar disorder, who manage to find some common ground beyond their respective metal illnesses.

I have wanted to see this movie for months, but was always either too tired, too busy or too lazy to drag my butt to the theater. So when it hit Redbox last week, I was quick to snap it up. My reasons for intrigue being two-fold:

A) I wanted to see if it lived up to the hype -- that hype including eight Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Cooper), Best Actress (Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Robert DeNiro ), Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver ), Best Director (David O. Russell ), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Lawrence took home the statue for her portrayal of a young woman struggling with a bipolar disorder-related breakdown following the unexpected death of her husband.

And B) I wanted to see how the film handled the issue of depression and bipolar disorder itself, whether it felt truthful, or if Tinseltown would try to tidy it all up.

And I have to say, as person who suffers from depression herself -- the jury's still out on the bipolar verdict, but it's possible (as is the OCD) -- I felt the movie did a pretty good job of portraying the way people with the problem often act in and react to various situations.

Is it meant to be hilarious? No. But as with anything, I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with using humor to draw attention to, or comment on, pretty much any important subject.

Which is why you hear about so many comedians suffering from the illness themselves. What can we say? Being depressed may make one a bit more in-tune, perhaps, to absurdity. Me, personally, because I witness it so frequently in my own thinking and behavior.

So I'm glad the filmmakers had the guts to tackle it with a light hand. And yeah, I'll admit, even I let myself be seduced by its silver linings.

After all, yes, I may be sad some of the time, sometimes for what seems like no reason.

And sure, I may scoff at quirky 30-somethings who walk their pet ferrets through Central Park, or who have a best friend who runs a phone sex line, or dress in '70s clothes all the time, or whose grandmother routinely swears and makes off-color sexual jokes at the dinner table.

But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a happy ending every once in awhile.

KATIE MCDOWELL is a staff writer for The Dominion Post. Email her a


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