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.
I think I should start by stating that I was hungry for this film, the book Prozac Nation, which chronicles Elizabeth Wurtzel's battle with depression, meant so much to me and each delay to the film (and there were many) only served to increase my desire to see it. Then I watched it . and from the opening scene my heart sank.
But lets get things straight first, it is a good film, probably would never win any awards but there are worse ways to kill a couple of hours. The performances, from a cast that includes Jessica Lange and Anne Heche, are solid (although somewhat unfairly Jason Biggs will always be the guy who humped the pie in my eyes) and in the case of Christina Ricci, who played Wurtzel herself, exceptional, the soundtrack's cool (well it does include The Pretenders, Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen after all) and if you haven't read the book you'll probably like, maybe even love, it. However therein lies the problem, a film based on an international bestseller is surely aiming itself at a target audience of its readers and for this film that's the very people who are least likely to enjoy it. The film sucks out all the depth that made the book so brilliant and so important to millions, for example, instead of being a emotionally messed up young woman who fears abandonment and uses sex and anger as defence mechanisms, Wurtzel becomes a bitchy, whiny slut who is difficult to relate to or feel sympathy for. Furthermore the time constraints lead the film to focus solely on the Harvard years cutting out the important childhood/teen years and leading to a resolution which occurs far to early making depression seem like a problem which can be solved within a year. However I suppose the biggest problem the film has to overcome is the fact that reading Prozac Nation is a highly personal and private thing, meaning no film will be able to compare to the one the readers have already seen in their heads.
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