Prozac Nation

"Weak"

Prozac Nation Review


Some films lead a long and storied journey to the big screen; Prozac Nation led a long and vague journey to any screen at all. It was filmed back in the year 2000, scheduled for release in 2001, only to be bumped into early 2002, then to fall 2002, then into summer 2003... and on and on, setting and missing a yearly planner's worth of release dates, until it finally premiered, clearinghouse style, on the premium movie channel Starz! in March 2005 (meanwhile, the movie dotted the rest of the globe in 2003 and 2004, with isolated premieres in Japan, Norway, Denmark, and Israel). Waiting for Prozac Nation to come out turns out to be rather like the experience of actually watching Prozac Nation; despite low expectations, you press on, hoping for something interesting to happen.

Adapted from Elizabeth Wurtzel's memoir (unread by me, and despite its bestseller status it seems to be almost universally disliked) of depression and dysfunction at Harvard, Nation casts the always-watchable Christina Ricci as the self-absorbed author. The film doesn't exactly have a story; it's more about Elizabeth using college to gauge the depths of her mental instability. She writes in binges for the school paper, introduces countless substances into her system, and embarks on destructive relationships and non-relationships. Ricci, it must be said, displays skill and gusto in the areas of binging, abuse, and destruction; she throws herself into the part, though what she gets in return is questionable.

It may be that this material was unworkable in terms of either insight or entertainment, though I have to believe with Ricci and Jessica Lange (playing Wurtzel's mother and screeching partner) around, the film could've at least been arrestingly unlikable, instead of just shrill. This is one of those movies where the more conventionally pleasant characters (played here by Jason Biggs and Michelle Williams) are forced to fade into the background after they're done time in their "island of sanity" roles. When the film allows a glimpse of the Biggs character's home and family life, we're startled to see he has one at all. The screenplay, however, rushes away from these complications in order to allot more time to Elizabeth visiting her therapist (Anne Heche).

This wouldn't be a problem if the filmmakers absorbed us in Elizabeth's world. There are a few feverish sequences of Ricci on writing jags that begin to develop a rapport with the audience; we see the buzz she gets from focusing on writing and ignoring everything else, and briefly we're there with Elizabeth through her ups and downs.

But those feelings grow cold. When Elizabeth attends a Lou Reed concert at Harvard in order to write a rhapsodic review that catches the eye of Rolling Stone, the movie has the gall to show her arriving after Reed's set has already begun, and spending half of the concert at a table, talking to a cute guy. Was Wurtzel, in her memoir, only able to relate to this music as background noise to her personal dramas, or are the filmmakers really this clueless about how to show her actually interacting with this music she supposedly loves?

With all of the self-analysis and occasional voiceover narration, it's hard not to assume that the film is at least somewhat faithful to its source material. For me, watching Prozac Nation produced an ugly side effect: It made me want to read the book, just to confirm my suspicion that I would hate it even more.



Prozac Nation

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th June 2003

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 7 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Erik Skjoldbjærg

Producer: , , R. Paul Miller

Starring: as Elizabeth Wurtzel, as Rafe, as Dr. Sterling, as Ruby, as Noah, as Mrs. Wurtzel

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.