Christina Ricci stars as Lizzie, a prize-winning student heading off to Harvard where she intends to study journalism and launch a career as a rock music critic. However, Elizabeth's fractured family situation including an errant father (Nicholas Campbell) and a neurotic, bitterly hypercritical mother (Jessica Lange) has led to a struggle with depression. When her all-night, drug-fueled writing binges and emotional instability alienate her roommate and best friend, Ruby (Michelle Williams), as well as both her first (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) and second (Jason Biggs) boyfriends, Lizzie seeks psychiatric counseling from Dr. Diana Sterling (Anne Heche), who prescribes the wonder drug Prozac. Despite success as a writer that includes a gig writing for Rolling Stone and some mellowing out thanks to her medication, Lizzie begins to feel that the pills are running her life and faces some tough choices about her future.
A misunderstood movie about a misunderstood disease
"Prozac Nation" is a case study of clinical depression with Ricci as a Harvard frosh trying to cope with her own identity crisis, poor self esteem, and uncontrollable mood swings; the expectations of an over-compensating divorced mother; the absenteeism of a shallow father; and the sincerity of a love she can't believe is real. The film does a good job of accurately representing the destructive influences of the disease of depression in spite murky flashbacks, a hazy narration by Ricci, and a melodramatic and contrived feel. A showcase for Ricci, who meets the demands of her role, this film's lukewarm reception may have more to do with the lack of understanding of the Jekyll-Hyde nature of the depressed person than a poor presentation of the character. (B)
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