EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|PROZAC NATION (director: Erik Skjoldbjaerg; screenwriter: from the book by Elizabeth Wurtzel/Frank Deasy/Larry Gross; cinematographer: Erling Thurmann-Andersen; editor: James Lyons; music: Nathan Larson; cast: Christina Ricci (Elizabeth), Anne Heche (Dr. Sterling), Michelle Williams (Ruby), Jason Biggs (Rafe), Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Noah), Jessica Lange (Mrs. Wurtzel), Nicholas Campbell (Mr. Wurtzel); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Christina Ricci/Brad Weston/Galt Niederhoffer/R. Paul Miller; Miramax; 2001)|
should be no surprise that a flick about depressives turns into a
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Swedish filmmaker Erik
("Insomnia") bases his true story drama on the best-seller
autobiography by Elizabeth Wurtzel, with the screenplay by Frank
Deasy and Larry Gross. It should be no surprise that a flick about
depressives turns into a depressing film. What might surprise some is
in how turgid, tedious and slow moving it is, making it difficult to
become involved with the troubled main character experiencing all sorts
of personal problems due to her parents' divorce, drugs, sex, pressures
to succeed and various other problems young people face in today's
modern world. The film chronicles Elizabeth Wurtzel's (Christina Ricci)
battles with depression while attending Harvard in her freshman year.
If one is looking for positives,
then despite the film's failures to be involving Christina Ricci nevertheless gives a summa
cum laude performance whereby she commits herself totally to getting
inside her character's head.
The action is set in the
mid-'80s and depicts brilliant scholarship student Elizabeth's
aspirations to be a writer and her changing relationships with Harvard
roommate Ruby (Michelle
Williams) and her futile love affair with her
nice-guy boyfriend Rafe (Jason Biggs), and her emotionally troubling
verbally abusive relationships with her overprotective chain-smoking
mom (Jessica Lange) and, as a child, with her absent father
(Nicholas Campbell). The bad experience with dad causes her to
distrust men and leaves her with a lasting fear of men walking out on
her, and a dire need to get psychological help from therapist Dr.
Sterling (Anne Heche). The troubled 19-year-old runs up a
medical tab that puts mom in debt. Still unable to get the help needed,
the whiny self-centered
privileged kid in trouble becomes depressive, a chronic
substance-abuser, reckless in sex and suicidal. She's such an obnoxious
character, that even those closest to her find her almost impossible to
put up with. If they can't stand her, why should I?
The film seriously questions
if taking antidepressant pills is the answer to this generation's
quest of looking for happiness. By the time it gets to that point, I
lost all interest in the unappealing Elizabeth and the seemingly hollow
point it makes about modern-day treatment. But if you're looking for a
faithful adaptation to the book, Skjoldbjaerg passes the test (despite some
gimmicky shots of drug freak-outs, fast motion photography and the
Even Elizabeth Wurtzel herself
asked that the film not be released because it was 'horrible.' After a
poor reception at the Toronto Film Festival, the film was shelved and
not released to cable until a few years later.
REVIEWED ON 5/29/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ