WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When Lizzie Wurtzel (Christina Ricci) earns a scholarship to Harvard University, much to her motherís joy (Jessica Lange), she is expecting a life of concentrating on her true talent, writing. Instead she gets hit by a paralyzing depression that reflects an entire generationís struggle to stay on top of things while navigating the harmful effects of divorce, drugs, sex and high expectations. When author Elizabeth Wurtzel got her novel ďProzac NationĒ published, it became an international best-seller. This movie is the true story based on her own autobiographical book, and her journey into excess and eventually her decline into the world of clinical depression.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I have mixed feelings about this film, hence the average rating. I found it to be enlightening in many ways, especially about its portrayal of the debilitating illness, depression. However, I also found it to be quite stagnant, and frankly, boring although it had its moments. Then again, consider the subject matter. It needs to be said that great acting does make the boredom somewhat more bearable, and so Ricciís and Langeís performances were a savior for this film. Itís riveting to watch them. They are both so amazingly talented in their craft, and they deliver very emotionally charged portrayals of their respective characters in such a way that it almost makes you like them more for it. Iíve always loved both actresses.
In this film, the supporting cast is also impressive, such as Lizzieís friend and roommate at Harvard, Ruby (Michelle Williams) and even her boyfriend for a time, Rafe (Jason Biggs). Anne Heche as the therapist and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as another boyfriend have smaller roles, although they are good too. I have always loved Rhys-Meyers ever since he played the vile Steerpike in the Gormenghast series. He sure is easy on the eyes, too. I have not read Wurtzelís novel, but I had always heard about it. I have also experienced Prozac myself, and not thought highly of it, at all. In fact Tom Cruise and I may have something in common regarding our opinion on this over-medication of the masses. That said, we also have divergent points of view. In general, the movie was slow, often brought me down and gave me an overall unhappy feeling, which is maybe the whole point (depression is after all not a light, fun thing), but it makes for the kind of film that doesnít really entertain you, at least thatís what I think anyway.
Anatomy of A Scene: Director Erik Skjoldbjaerg and his creative team bring the experience of a mental breakdown from the page to the screen in this key sequence from the film. Everything from the editing, camera, acting, design and more is discussed in excruciating detail in this overly long (20 minutes) overview of the Birthday Party scene. Similarities to ďOrdinary PeopleĒ are observed.
This film packs some punch because itís not a light, fun time if thatís what one is searching for in a rental or DVD purchase either. Itís an emotional drama that may even make you cry or sad, depending on your disposition. It certainly is a well-told story, despite its slowness, and itís an accurate look into a world many of us are unfamiliar with. Clinical depression is more than just feeling down, although that definitely is a part of it. The one single special feature is too long and overly detailed, but some of you may like that. I personally, didnít. So if youíre in the mood for a film that will make you think, feel strong emotions, and give you a glimpse into the world of depression and spiraling out of control, then maybe give this one a whirl, you will most certainly learn something, if nothing else.