“Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.” – Clementine (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Thanks, Clem! Thank you for acknowledging the MPDG archetype and for resenting men who want to make you their pixie dream girl. So, who’s this young woman that men need in their lives? Enter the cute, usually white, slightly eccentric, girl-woman who teaches the movie hero to just loosen up and embrace life’s magnificence. Perfection. But this film trope usually places the female character in a meager supporting role; she’s another Holly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) or another Penny Lane (Almost Famous). The male hero is the star.
When I finally sat down to watch Silver Linings Playbook, I thought, “Great! Another Manic Pixie Dream Girl!” Nope. David O. Russell’s dramedy gives us two (literally) manic individuals: Pat Solitano (Cooper) and Tiffany (Lawrence). The film twists the MPDG archetype and we see two people trying to cope with life and sanity, by teaching each other that there is a silver lining. You just have to fight. Of course, Tiffany fights harder. Pat eventually does see the light, comes to terms with his life, and teaches a couple of things to Tiffany too. Aside from the dream girl twist, Silver Linings beautifully depicts the harsh reality of mental illness. The “othering” of the diseased, the marginalization of the abnormal. And Lawrence’s performance is impressive, definitely stealing the spotlight.