Prozac Nation

Prozac Nation

What She said:


Prozac Nation is a film based on a memoir of the same name by Elizabeth Wurtzel.  The film and book follow Wurtzel as she heads on a downward spiral into depression, particularly during her freshman year as a Harvard undergrad in the 1980s.  Lizzie is played by Christina Ricci, who looks remarkably young compared to her today self.  Michelle Williams plays roommate and on again off again best friend Ruby.  Lizzie’s mother, who watches from the sidelines as her daughter veers out of control, is played by Jessica Lange.  Anne Heche, Jason Biggs, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are also in the film.

Although Prozac Nation is an independent film, it actually feels even cheaper than that.  At first when I flicked it on, I had to check the listing to confirm that I wasn’t stuck on Lifetime again (the Sunday curse).  Despite what is a very heavy theme, and lots and lots of emotional drama, there is always an element of cheese to this movie.  Credit to Christina Ricci, she played the role of Lizzie very well, with sullen eyes, a raging demeanor, and a range of substance abuse problems.  Her mom doesn’t exactly seem like a perfect person, but you do feel bad for her when she continually has to deal with Lizzie’s meltdowns. 

The movie doesn’t go into too much depth about Lizzie’s day-to-day functions at Harvard.  I honestly have no idea what her grades were, but she wasn’t once shown as being in class, so I’d say not good.  I sympathized slightly for her, because she was a remarkably talented writer who was pushed into being a perfectionist, and she seems deeply burdened when she is unable to write.  But, that said, she is a completely psychotic brat, so there is a definite limit to how much you can feel for her.  Anne Heche is somewhat comical as Dr. Sterling, the psychiatrist who seems to help in no way.  Ultimately, she puts Lizzie on Prozac, hence the title of the film, which allows her to better function.

I’m sure there’s some social commentary to this, but it seemed lost to me.  I just wanted Lizzie to get a grip.  I also wasn’t sure if she was clinically depressed, as the movie suggests, or much more troubled beyond that.  She seemed schizophrenic to me.  Anyway, it’s hard to say you’ll get much enjoyment out of this film because none of the characters are really that likable.  You’ll get a mediocre ending that isn’t really warm and fuzzy, and you’ll feel a bit shortchanged by the production value.  It’s an intriguing plotline, just not very well executed.

Thumbs a quarter of the way up.