"Prozac Nation"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    Christina Ricci as ELIZABETH
    Jason Biggs as RAFE
    Anne Heche as DR. STERLING
    Michelle Williams as RUBY
    Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as NOAH
    Jessica Lange as MRS. WURTZEL

    Rated R
    Studio: Miramax

    Directed by: Erik Skjoldbjærd
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While I’m a sympathetic person, I have a lot of trouble having sympathy for people with problems I don’t understand. And when it comes to clinical depression, I don’t understand it. Oh, I understand the physiological cause, and I understand how drugs can be used to correct that, but I don’t understand how people - often those with clinical depression - can be so down on these drugs.

I also don’t understand how people with a clinical problem can suddenly turn around and blame that for all the other problems in their lives. But all of these seem to be the themes of “Prozac Nation.”

Written by Elizabeth Wurtzel, this is her true story of diagnosing her depression and trying to overcome it with therapy and drugs. Christina Ricci plays a young Wurtzel off at college. During her time there, she makes friends and crushes relationships. She is unable to deal with herself and torpedoes any relationship she’s in - whether its with her roommate or her boyfriend.

Elizabeth has all the promise in the world. She’s going to an ivy league school. She’s got a new group of friends. And she’s got a budding career as a journalist. Unfortunately, she’s a nut case. (That’s a scientific term, mind you.)

Speaking as a writer, these kinds of stories irritate me. I know it’s true, but from watching this movie, it seems that Elizabeth’s problem isn’t that she’s clinically depressed. It’s because she’s a first class a-hole. (That’s a scientific term as well.)

I hate seeing people (real or not) that have talent, make a name for themselves and then continue to feel sorry for themselves. I’ve known people with clinical depression, and while they have their issues, they’re not nearly as mean, vindictive and downright whacked (another scientific term) as Elizabeth Wurtzel.

And this lady’s on the best seller list! Talk about a literary Kurt Cobain in the making.

The film is meant to show the pain and suffering that a person with clinical depression is going through. And it eventually makes a backhanded compliment to drug manufacturers for developing something like Prozac that ends up medicating a nation. If I were Wurtzel, I’d think this was a godsend. Yet she’s bitter about it... even after she’s been on the drugs.

Overall, the film is well put together. The acting is excellent, except for the worthless Anne Heche’s lame role as Wurtzel’s therapist. Even Jason Biggs does a fine job in a part that is just cannon fodder for Wurtzel’s screwed up love life. Jessica Lange delivers a solid performance as Wurtzel’s equally screwed up mother. Ricci, of course, holds the film together. All their performances were good. The movie just got under my skin.

Like Christina Ricci’s figure as of late, this DVD is a little lean. The only special feature to speak of is an episode of IFC’s “Anatomy of a Scene.” The scene examined on this film is one of the many scenes where Elizabeth has a break down in front of her mother on the day after her birthday. If you’re into independent filmmaking and understanding the motivation behind the different choices a director can make, this is a good episode (and ultimately a good show) to watch.

I would have liked to see something in terms of commentaries on this film, possibly with Ricci or even director Erik Skjoldbjærd. However, what would have been best would be a commentary by Elizabeth Wurtzel herself. Of course, she’s probably too busy moping in depression, doping up on Prozac and then complaining about it.

Specifications: Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Spanish language track. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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