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Prozac Nation
2001 - R - 99 Mins.
Director: Erik Skjoldbjærg
Producer: R. Paul Miller, Galt Niederhoffer, Brad Weston
Written By: Frank Deasy and Larry Gross
Starring: Christina Ricci, Anne Heche, Michelle Williams, Jason Biggs, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Jessica Lange
Review by: Carl Langley
   

It's ok, McDonalds is sending 50 apple pies to the set.
After watching 'Prozac Nation,' I felt as if I had just watched one of those depressing television movies starring Tracy Gold that could only be discovered on Lifetime. Honestly, this movie is a clunker. And it is baffling to see who was behind this feature: Erik Skjoldbjærg, who directed the arresting foreign film Insomnia; Christina Ricci, whose choices in which independent films she involves herself are inconsistent (i.e. good = 'The Opposite of Sex'/bad = 'Pumpkin'); and Jessica Lange, a two-time Academy Award winner, who is amazingly awful, or better yet, simply amazing put next to her co-star.

The film was adapted from the autobiography called “Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America,” written by Elizabeth Wurtzel, whom Ricci plays in the film. It centers on her years at Harvard University, where she began to quickly decline into a serious egocentric, contentious stage. Even though she is a brilliant writer (she won a scholarship for journalism and was asked to write freelance work for Rolling Stone), she never takes her accomplishments and blossoms from them.

The movie tries to explain to us that Elizabeth is ultimately depressed because of mood-altering prescription drugs she receives from her therapist (Anne Heche) the second half of the film. The problem is, she has always been a dispiriting person from the beginning, and it is hard to tell what the real cause is. Her parents are divorced and they still have shouting matches over the phone that ends in the phone and the wall taking one for the team. She has not seen her father for four years and then he suddenly decides to come back into her life. She also decides to go to counseling, which puts her mother into financial debt. At the end of the movie, there is a little fact that flashes on screen about kids getting hooked up on prescription drugs. Was that the point of this movie? Or was it just another irritating mess about a girl struggling to cope with life and wanting to cut herself every five minutes? We never really know until this fact is fed to us and by then you will want your money back.

The acting is nothing to rant and rave about; the whole cast is uniformly mediocre. Christina Ricci usually can outshine the rest of cast in poorly constructed films (i.e. Anything Else). Here she comes across as annoying and perfunctory. Her lover in the film is played by Jason Biggs and it is hard to see him on screen without humping an apple pie. Michelle Williams plays her roommate who has to deal with Elizabeth’s compulsive lying and unfaithful boyfriend (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) sleeping with Elizabeth. Ricci and Lange aside, this is not a cast you would expect to choose grade A material.

The film was shot four years ago and it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2001. 'Prozac Nation' never had trouble picking up a distributor, but like its heroine, it had a difficult time coming off the shelf and revealing itself to the real world. For all that it is worth, it could have stayed on that shelf collecting dust. Leave the self-absorbed, melancholic garbage for Lifetime and Tracey Gold.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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