MMI: Silver Linings Playbook
What makes the dance scene in Silver Linings Playbook so good is...a lot. One, it means something to every character in the film. Pat because he’s trying to prove something to himself and because of what it means to Tiffany. Tiffany because she’s trying to prove something to herself, and to her sister, and because of what she knows it’s doing for Pat. Pat’s family because of the wager (and the wager shows the faith they’re putting in Pat and Tiffany) but also because they’re seeing Pat, someone who they were so worried about, achieving something they never expected him to achieve.
Two, because of the moment that comes before. Pat’s ex-wife, the one he has been pining over for the entire movie, shows up. He finally gets to see her! And this sends Tiffany, who loves Pat, and is, we’re reminded, a grief-induced nymphomaniac, to the bar. She’s drinking before the dance! AHHHH. This guy is hitting on her! AHHHH. It’s such stupid melodrama. And it gets me. Why? Because of the Hemingway set-up. When Pat flips out about A Farewell to Arms having an unhappy ending, it’s a good way to show how...sensitive Pat is. It’s also a way for the film to remind us that movies can have twist tragedy, that the happy ending doesn’t always happen. The psychology term for it is “priming”. We don’t think about the tragic ending to Farewell to Arms at the time because we’re in the first third of the movie and Pat is freaking out at 3 AM. There’s other things going on. But when we get to this moment when Tiffany is at the bar, and suddenly all their hard work can vanish, all these...bad seeds can suddenly flourish and overrun the story, we’re reminded of Farewell and how sad endings can happen. Will Pat find Tiffany before she goes with this guy? Will she be too drunk to perform? jfl;kdsajfkl;dsjfkl;dsjaflk;dsjafkl;dsja;kfdsja;fdjs
When they finally dance. My goodness was I relieved. I wanted these two to be happy. I wanted to see them together. Is their dance amazing? No. And the movie has fun with this: “Why are they so excited about a five?” But the characters are happy. The family is happy. We’re happy. It’s a cathartic moment. A victory in so many different ways. Wonderful.
Cinema Beans: Damsels in Distress
Whit Stillman isn't a stranger to placing out-of-body dance numbers in his films. While the final dance in Last Days of Disco feels like the glorious discharge of a fading generation, Violet's dance in Damsels in Distress is the culmination in her arc, coupled with the realization of her dream of helping others. Starting a dance craze was just as much a cry for help as a need to help, and the final scene of Damsels in Distress realizes both of these important traits in a few sophisticated steps.