Seven Gripes About the Differences Between The Silver Linings Playbook Book and Movie

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Warning lightWARNING!

This post contains spoilers, quotes from The Silver Linings Playbook book and I discuss the movie in detail.

If you haven’t read the book and/or seen the movie and you don’t want to know what’s gonna happen, I suggest you go read other awesome things I’ve written.

For instance, you might check out “My Favorites” where you can find at least 12 posts for each year this site has been around and kicking.

Consider yourself warned.River Song Spoilers gif

I read The Silver Linings Playbook a couple of months after the movie was released.

I have this rule where I read the book first. Maybe it’s an underlying hipster compulsion I’m not quite willing to acknowledge.

The book was very…raw.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew QuickAnd honest.

I hate those two words in reference to a book. They sound pretentious much like when a writer calls himself a “storyteller.”

Unfortunately, for me, those aforementioned adjectives fit The Silver Linings Playbook perfectly.

Two very broken people who broke their families and who manage to be less broken together.

If the movie had been as raw as the book, would it have received as many awards? I would like to think so but I suspect I’m being a bit too hopeful.

I wish I could go to some parallel place where I could have read the book and have seen the movie and simultaneously have no knowledge the other existed.

My Gripes About the Differences Between The Silver Linings Playbook Book and Movie

1. Drastically shortening Pat’s stay in the mental hospital.

Reducing Pat’s stay in the “neurology hospital” from four years to eight months minimized not only the severity of Pat’s sickness and the amount of damage he inflicted on Nicki’s lover but also took away Pat having to deal with the fact he spent four years in his head and hardly knew who he was anymore.

Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper

2. Letting Pat know why he was hospitalized from the very beginning.

think the first mention of why Pat was committed happens in like the first ten minutes or something of the movie. Want to know how long it is before Pat knows why he was institutionalized? Almost the entire book.

Cliff grabs his chin, which lets me know he is going to say something my mother has told him. “Pat, I know how you lost your memory. Everyone does.” He pauses here, gauging my reaction. “And I
think you remember too. Do you?”


“Do you want me to tell you how you
lost your memory?”



I don’t say anything.

“I know Dr. Timbers used to tell you the story every day as part of your therapy. That’s why I never brought it up. I thought maybe you would talk about it when you were ready, but it’s been almost five months[…]”

For almost the entire book, Pat doesn’t know he’s no longer married and hasn’t been since soon after his institutionalization. He doesn’t remember what he did to cause him to be committed.  Maybe David O. Russell didn’t feel he could fit all of that into a movie and still have a likable character you want to root for?

3. Changing Pat and his father’s relationship.

Turning Pat and his father’s relationship around and making Pat’s father the pursuer in the relationship was wrong. For me, one of the integral struggles in the book was Pat’s desire for his father’s approval.

I enjoyed seeing the father’s character fleshed out but an essential part of the character was changed in the process. I say to the detriment to the story. Yes, there was still an element of shame in their interactions and you can’t deal with mental illness without touching on the shame issue, [I have a post coming up about that soon.] but Pat’s father didn’t spend the movie ignoring Pat like the father in the book did for quite a while. This movie dad begged to spend time with Pat. Brought it up multiple times. Made excuses to spend time with Pat.

Then again, the movie dad was highly superstitious and a bookie and thought Pat was good luck. That might have factored in a bit.

Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook

4.I very much dislike the changes made to the dance practice and the dance competition.

Throughout the book, Tiffany is strong and deeply flawed but she’s also driven and this “dance thing” is HER thing. Heck, she uses the “Nikki” letters to blackmail Pat into being her partner.

Turning the competition into a professional level competition when, in the book, it was the Dance Away Depression showcase full of little kids and teens changed the entire feel of what Tiffany was doing. In a way, the Dance Away Depression competition was another way for Tiffany to express her inappropriateness: a woman hell-bent on decimating little depressed children.

With the movie competition having pro competitors, Pat and Tiffany look like fools…like crazy people since they’re going to be going up against people who dance for a living and you know they don’t stand a chance.

Silver Linings Playbook dance scene

The dance practice section of the book showcased Tiffany at her most bossy best and her most dishonest worst.

She choreographed the routine. She figured out the costumes. She manhandled Pat into a dancer. She didn’t need any help. Tiffany wasn’t a bumbling novice who didn’t know where she was going. You don’t see a lot of that in the movie.

You see Pat’s friend, Danny, coaching Pat and Tiffany on how to make their dance better since they have nothing. It was funny and the movie did a good job with it but I hated seeing some of the wind taken out of Book Tiffany’s sails.

5. Making Pat OK with Tiffany writing “Nikki’s” letter. <–Watch out! This is a biggie!

Let’s just get this straight right now. Pat did not appreciate Tiffany writing him letters as Nikki. Not even close. It absolutely crushed Pat on many levels.

This is from near the end of the book:

I sit down under a huge tree—on a dry spot of grass—and wait.

Rain clouds swallowed the sun a long time ago, but when I look at my watch, the numbers officially make it dusk.
My chest starts to feel tight; I notice that I am shaking and breathing heavily. I hold my hand out to see how bad the shakes are, and my hand is flapping like the wing of a bird, or maybe it is as if I am hot and trying to fan myself with my fingers. I try to make it stop, and when I can’t, I shove both hands into my father’s overcoat pockets, hoping Nikki will not notice my nervousness when she shows up.

I smell a woman’s perfume.

I recognize the scent.

I breathe in deeply to ready myself.

I open my eyes.

“I’m fucking sorry, okay?” she says, but it’s not Nikki. “I never thought it would lead to this. So I’m just going to be honest now. My therapist thought you were stuck in a constant state of denial because  you were never afforded closure, and I thought I might afford you closure by pretending to be Nikki. So I made up the whole liaison thing in an effort to provide you closure, hoping you would snap out of your funk and would be able to move on with your life once you understood that being reunited with your ex-wife was an impossibility. I wrote all the letters myself.
Okay? I never even contacted Nikki. She doesn’t even know you’re sitting here. Maybe she doesn’t even know you are out of the neural health facility. She’s not coming, Pat. I’m sorry.”

My eyes burn. My face flushes. Suddenly I realize that for the past two months I have been completely delusional, that Nikki is never coming back and apart time is going to last forever.







I want to hit Tiffany.

I want to pound her face with my knuckles until the bones in my hands crumble and Tiffany is completely unrecognizable, until she no longer has a face from which she can spew lies.

See what I mean?

Why the hell would he be happy to find out the woman who he has obsessed over for years is never coming back to him? Why would he be happy to be forced to confront his delusions head-on? Even the sanest person has moments when they just want to believe something is possible and Nikki was Pat’s something. Hence a lot of his issues with her since she became a “something” instead of a “someone” but that’s not really the point here. Not only all of that, but Pat was betrayed by one of the very few friends he had and the only woman he’d been attracted to since his wife.

The parts I quoted above are the start of Pat dealing with one of his biggest demons and these moments don’t exist in the movie…not really. Pat’s getting close to his “excelsior” moment and you can feel it in the book. There’s this tension that is almost palpable; you know something big is about to happen. I never got that feeling with the movie.

Pat viewed his entire life as a movie and held the delusional belief if he tried hard enough and cared enough, he would get his “happy ending.” While the book–and the movie–has dark moments, Pat’s optimism–however misplaced–is the thing which holds him together and that’s ripped out from under him when Tiffany finally comes clean.

Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook

The only conversation, in the movie, Pat and Tiffany have about the letter [In the book, there are many letters with each one getting more hurtful for Pat.] is at the very end when he gives Tiffany a letter he wrote confessing his love. The only clue you have that Pat knows Tiffany wrote the letter is when she says “reading the signs” and Pat remembers it from “Nikki’s” letter.

BUT, instead of having the compulsion to “pound her face with [his] knuckles until the bones in [his] hands crumble and Tiffany is completely unrecognizable […],” Movie Pat looks back at his parents’ house with a look of awe and wonder like he’s grateful the girl who is supposed to be his friend, impersonated his wife and used the letter as a form a blackmail to get him to dance in her competition.

6. Pat never talks to Nikki. Not one single time. Never.

Near the end of the book, Pat had his brother drive past Pat’s old house and saw Nikki with her new family. This is Pat recounting it to Tiffany right before the end of the book:

“And I squinted hard trying to see Nikki’s face, and even from a block away I could tell she was smiling the whole time and was so very happy, and somehow that was enough for me to officially end apart time and roll the credits of my movie without even confronting Nikki, so I just asked Jake to drive me back to New Jersey, which he did, because he is probably the best brother in the entire
world. So I guess I just want Nikki to be happy, even if her happy life doesn’t include me, because I had my chance and I wasn’t a very good husband and Nikki was a great wife, and …”

In the movie, Nikki decides to come watch the competition and maybe give Pat a second chance. Pat whispers something in Nikki’s ear and chooses Tiffany. Book Pat’s way seems more him. NikkI doesn’t even have to know he’s seen her. He just wants her to be happy even if it’s not with him.

7. They made the ending too sugary sweet.

The ending of the movie bugged me. They changed it into the perfect guy-runs-after-girl-and-professes-his-love scene from many romance movies. The book wasn’t a romance for me; it was journey Pat had to take and Tiffany helped him make that trip. I won’t go so far as to say they “cheapened” it because it was a perfectly GOOD ending but it wasn’t what I was expecting and wasn’t what I wanted.

Last scene of the movie before the epilogue scene [Pat is reciting the letter he just gave to Tiffany.]:

Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook

Ending of the book:

She says, “I need you, Pat Peoples; I need you so fucking bad,” and then she begins to cry hot tears onto my skin as she kisses my neck softly and sniffles.

It is a strange thing for her to say, so far removed from a regular woman’s “I love you,” and yet probably more true. It feels good to hold Tiffany close to me, and I remember what my mother said back when I tried to get rid of my friend by asking her to go to the diner with me. Mom said, “You need friends, Pat. Everybody does.”

I also remember that Tiffany lied to me for many weeks; I remember the awful story Ronnie told me about Tiffany’s dismissal from work and what she admitted to in her most recent letter; I remember just how bizarre my friendship with Tiffany has been—but then I remember that no one else but Tiffany could really even come close to understanding how I feel after losing Nikki forever.

I remember that apart time is finally over, and while Nikki is gone for good, I still have a woman in my arms who has suffered greatly and desperately needs to believe once again that she is beautiful.
In my arms is a woman who has given me a Skywatcher’s Cloud Chart, a woman who knows all my secrets, a woman who knows just how messed up my mind is, how many pills I’m on, and yet she allows me to hold her anyway. There’s something honest about all of this, and I cannot imagine any other woman lying in the middle of a frozen soccer field with me—in the middle of a snowstorm even —impossibly hoping to see a single cloud break free of a nimbostratus.

Nikki would not have done this for me, not even on her best day.

So I pull Tiffany a little closer, kiss the hard spot between her perfectly plucked eyebrows, and after a deep breath, I say, “I think I need you too.”

Definitely not as much of splash as in the movie ending but it’s still hopeful. Pat’s making strong progress. He’s not delusional about Nikki; he’s let her go. He acknowledges what Tiffany did to him, but he also makes the conscious choice to move forward with her and a new life. I much prefer this ending. Like lots.

A random rip on the book because this has bothered me since as soon as I read this part: The book does this deus ex machina thing where Pat magically ends up beaten and bloody in front of Danny’s Aunt Jasmine’s house. Pat didn’t know where Aunt Jasmine lived other than North Philly. Never felt good about Quick pulling that fast one.

The movie had several laugh out loud moments where I was very glad it was just me and two other people in the theater. The way Russel managed to take a book which had a whole heck of a lot of internal stuff going on and make a movie that made sense–and won a lot of awards–and was enjoyable is definitely an accomplishment. Especially when you consider the two main characters are crazy.

Even with all of my complaints, I still enjoyed the movie. And that goes back to my original statement way up at the top, “I wish I could go to some parallel place where I could have read the book and have seen the movie and simultaneously have no knowledge the other existed.”



  1. Thanks for the awesome comparison. I only watched the movie and I loved it but I can see why you feel the way you do. I still plan to read the book eventually. I don’t have the same rule to read the book first, on the contrary, because I love movies so much I prefer to watch the bastardization first and then read the almost always superior incarnation of the story.

    To me it’s like comparing apples to oranges though so it’s not fair to do this anyway. Movies based on books should always say “influenced or inspired by such and such book”.

    It is fascinating how much a story changes from the page to the screen. I can’t remember too many times when it’s better in film. Can you name some? Of hand I would say “Somewhere in Time” was superior to the book named “Bid Time Return” originally but renamed over the years to match the famous movie by Richard Matheson (who wrote the screenplay too). Oddly enough, I can say the same thing about Matheson’s other book turned to film “What Dreams May Come”. I think it’s because he is such a visual writer (he made his name by writing some of the best Twilight Zones like “Nightmare at 20,000 feet” starring William Shatner, “Steel” and “Miniature”. He also wrote the book “I am Legend” which has been made into increasingly better films through the years as The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007).

    Thanks again for the review of both. I was curious to know how much they differed.

  2. Jim Miner says:

    Movies can never be their books. It’s beyond time to stop comparing them as apples. “The book was so much… (INSERT SUPERLATIVE HERE)” is played out even if still actually true.

    Maybe there are movies that never should be made. And the books that becomes only their titles are far too beautiful or complex to be extruded and repacked into a couple of hours and some innovative camerawork. “Dune” right? ’nuff said.

    But to view these maligned movies without the oppressive filter of the quality and narrative volume of the books they evolved from is our obligation. If you don’t want to do that just pick a lane. Maybe you want to review the books.

    If you decide to continue with movies based on books you want to think of them as not symbiotic or even derivative but unique and independent expression. It took me a long time to accept Tom Baker wasn’t my Dr. Who anymore. Now that I have I can enjoy something I refused to watch without agenda.

    You’re a proficient writer and a good read. Remember it’s very easy to catch someone doing something wrong. It’s much harder to catch the right in things. But harder is almost always better. Good luck.

    • jenchris23 says:

      I dont even want to see the movie now. The book was wonderful and it sounds NOTHING like the movie. I’d rather stick with my interpretation of the book instead of something not even close. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. I just watched the movie. I thought it was great. However, i read the entire book in one day…Yes, the entire book in one day. I loved the book and feel that the changes made in the movie do not do the book justice at all.. Great article!!

  4. I am so glad I found someone who thought the same as me!
    Most people I spoke to enjoyed the film more and although I liked the film I think it missed the point about the book. In the book Pat is searching for his ‘happy ever after’, something which doesn’t exist in real life. In the film, he recovered far too quickly and fell in love with Tiffany.
    I think the book also showed how mental illness can impact a family as a whole.
    A brilliant book, which I read in two days and I’d like to read more of Matthew Quick’s work.

  5. The Devil Wears Prada. Loved the movie so much more than the book.

  6. Great review, thanks! I will have to read the book. I enjoyed the movie a lot, so I get what you’re saying about wishing they existed in two universes. Having read your review I feel like some of the flaws in the movie make more sense now. It would have hit the spot if they had said “I need you” instead of “I love you” . And if the final moment of climactic tension were Pat finding out about the letters being forged, rather than Nikki showing up to the competition. Those two things made so little sense: like you say, why would the forgery make him lose his delusion? Wouldn’t it more likely put him over the edge? And what about the restraining order?? I guess they made those changes to give the story broader appeal!

  7. all true, but a good film adaptation of a book doesn’t neccessarily have to be faithful, it just has to be a good film.

  8. I just finished watching the movie. To be honest, I feel it was based loosely on the book at best. Everything you state here is absolutely accurate. I so loved the book that I took a while to see the movie and was hesitant to do so. However, it got such great critical reviews that I figured it must be exceptional. I truly hated it. It hardly resembles the book. All of the tension from the book was missing. I can’t see how anyone who read the book and liked it could enjoy this movie as an adaptation of the book. It was hard for me to enjoy the movie at all because of the high expectations I had after reading it. Extremely disappointed. In fact, I said aloud after the film was over “worst adaptation ever.”

  9. I agree, I wish I could have seen the movie and read the book and never knew either existed…..but that said I LOVED BOTH. I think what made the movie for me was the music…..since I had already read the book the music in the movie helped “cement” the craziness that both Pat and Tiffany were (I mean who hears Misty, Alabama Shakes, Led Zep and Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan as a movie soundtrack? LOL). My one teensiest little complaint – I don’t know many screwed up crazy people as together as and beautiful as Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. But – that’s Hollywood. So for the people who criticize movies as “not real” whaddaya expect from the industry? It’s supposed to be fantasy….. It’s a movie. By the way, thought De Niro was so understated – that was a BRILLIANT casting choice.

  10. Theodora says:

    Totally agree with all of your points. Specifically points 4 and 7 I thought were basically insulting in the movie and I couldn’t stand watching them. The ending was ridiculous and the dance practice felt like watching Dirty Dancing only supposedly funnier which was NOT what the book was about.
    Now that I think of it I also didn’t like the music score of the movie, even though it was good I felt it was totally irrelevant to the movie overall for some reason and VERY annoying.
    Anyways, just ranting here I guess. I watched the movie 3 years ago, loved it but completely forgot everything about it, then read the book in a day and just LOVED it, and then immediately watched the movie again and HATED it!
    Strange. Anyways great review, really.

  11. Michelle says:

    I think that book ending, what Pat thinks/says is much more profound that the movies ending. After reading this, I feel cheated!!

  12. Okay, the film is not a perfect adaptation of the novel, I’ve concluded it in the first ten minutes of the film. But C’mon guys, no adaptation is perfect and remember it will never be perfect because THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MEDIUMS. A film has sounds scoring, cinematography, acting, directing etc. in the same way that book has point of view, dialogues, structure. LEARN TO APPRECIATE THEIR DIFFERENCES, with that you’ll learn to appreciate Adaptation. But from a movie geek myself, I can say that the movie did great. Didn’t you saw how the shots were carefully made, the smooth moving shot that can visually show how Pat is broken and confused. The shot when Pat is remembering the crime he committed, his delusions and all. THE CINEMATOGRAPHY is amazing ? Didn’t you just say ‘wow’ with the amazing sound scoring– I am so inlove with the timing of the songs, God, My Cherie Amour song which we all know is the Kenny G song is so beautiful . The acting are also great.

    So yeah, again, I love them both. Just enjoy the story told in two different mediums. That’s all.


  1. […] look at the differences between the book and the movie, and you don’t mind spoilers, check this link. What we can tell you is that the director has taken a lot of liberties with the story and yet […]

  2. […] I get that it is a film based on a novel (and that the film made a lot of changes). And I agree that there is something really powerful about the idea that two people who have been […]

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