A man who lost his family in the September 11 attack on New York City runs into his old college roommate. Rekindling the friendship is the one thing that appears able to help the man recover from his grief.
Jada Pinkett Smith
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
In Hollywood, people in need revolve around Dr. Henry Carter, a shrink: Jack, an aging star wants permission to cheat on his wife; Shamus is a director who's a cokehead; Patrick is a high-powered germophobic producer; Jeremy is a young writer looking for a break; Jemma, a high-school student, is skipping school; and Kate is an actress facing her mid-30s. Henry's wife recently died; he's grieving, blaming himself, smoking lots of pot. Henry's friends try an intervention; someone steals a patient's file from Henry; Patrick's assistant, the pregnant Daisy, sees promise in Jeremy's work; and, Jesus, Henry's drug dealer, sells him some potent weed. Can anything good come of this? Written by
Overflowing with great performances and multi-pronged plot lines
We know the joke that is no joke at all--psychiatrists are the ones who need the help.
The rest of the cast needs help, too, but Kevin Spacey is a perfectly dour, complex, troubled, and rather smart shrink. And if his performance is nuanced and powerful in an undramatic way, the large supporting cast is exceptional, too. Exceptional. There might be issues with the neat ending, or with some of the motivations here and there, but there is so much going on within this clearly deceptive world of Hollywood insiders and outsiders, almost anything goes.
This is director Jonas Pate's first feature, after many t.v. episodes and some music video. That he coordinated such an involved plot, and made it look good, is impressive. That he got such an array of actors to be their idiosyncratic selves without too much strain and affectation is also impressive. It might help that I expected an ordinary film and found it extraordinary. It has an echo in many ways of "Short Cuts" and in many ways equals it, though that 1993 film had nothing but the highest expectations (Robert Altman directing, based on Raymond Carver stories). "Shrink" is refreshing in how it approaches Hollywood peripherally--not through a producer's office and some actors looking to make it, but through this psychiatrist who treats Hollywood's elite.
There might be a sense, especially at first, that there is no clear direction to the plot. But that's a matter of having so many pieces, and they haven't started fitting together. I found each subplot engaging enough to lead me along quite happily right away. And so when it got more integrated, and the stakes of the characters were raised, the whole just got better and better.
I'm not sure how this slipped by everyone's attention. Don't let it slip yours.
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