Prozac Nation

Cover Art and Menu: 5/10
While a naked Ricci is eye catching and moderately interesting, the look of the cover gives me a first hint of pretentiousness that crawls all over this film like ants on an abandoned lollipop dropped by a careless child at a family picnic. Why am I writing like I’m trying to fill a long and overdue 1500 word essay? The book that spawned this film is full of long winded prose and descriptions of what it’s like to be depressed. While it’s revealing and has a certain melancholy hypnotic effect, as you read it you get that taste in your mouth, the perfect cosmopolitan chic seasoning that seems to scream “I will be talking about this on Oprah Winfrey someday and read about myself in The New Yorker.” This cover (as well as the movie) attempts to abbreviate the high concept of being young, sexy, and unsympathetically depressed as a semi-wealthy Harvard student who just can’t get her shit together.

The menu is unfortunately drab and boring, if not functional. It quickly makes you forget the moderately interesting design of the ultra-hip and oh-so-revealing cover.

Extras & Features: 5/10
Anatomy Of A Scene – This is an episode from the Independent Film Channel series which examines one pivotal scene from a movie with the director, writer, and cast. It’s a good addition to a DVD, but when it’s the ONLY extra it doesn’t really make it a stand out disk. This episode highlights what the film makers see as the scene when Ricci’s character goes through some kind of change, that it leads into her spiral downward deeper into depression. I disagree, so there you go. It’s fantastic for aspiring film makers to get an inside look at how a few pages from a script come to life through the whole process including set design, performance, editing, etc. It’s good, but it’s still THE ONLY EXTRA on the DVD, which leaves me bitter and wanting more.

The Movie: 5/10:
Let’s get this ball rolling by saying that I’m not a big fan of Christina Ricci. I try from film to film to see past the over acting and the poutiness, but I just can’t get there. She has some quality moments in Prozac Nation. I can’t deny that she does come out of her childhood acting a bit here and there. It’s just that overall she doesn’t seem sympathetic or damaged as her character is supposed to be. The story, if you call it that, swirls around a Harvard college student who is depressed, pushes the limits of drug abuse, drinking, and being an overall dark and brooding bitch. She writes a few articles that are noticed, most importantly by Rolling Stone, and then she falls deeper into her dark state of mind. Along the way she embarrasses her mother, loses her virginity (and has a party to celebrate), develops and destroys a relationship with a nice young man, does naughty things to her roommate’s boyfriend, and other generally uncool, self destructive things.

This is a character study, not the telling of a story with a beginning, middle, and end. We are watching a few moments in the life of this up and coming writer while she struggles with feeling bad, being depressed, losing her ability to write, succumbing to therapy and resolving painful things with her mother. It all sounds provocative enough, the sex, drugs, sadness, the dark bleak world of being depressed, it all makes for a great palette to make a captivating movie. However, this film just scraps the surface, and if you bleeped the f-word, blurred the limited nudity, you could make this into an after school special. It’s that bland.

I shouldn’t be so harsh. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Jessica Lange and in this film she is amazing. I was looking forward to seeing her every moment she wasn’t on the screen. That woman has it in her to bring me to tears from the smallest of expressions. She puts her heart and soul into this role. There are times when I felt bad that her perfectly delivered lines and impeccable emotional responses were playing opposite the more amateurish Ricci.

The style of the film is also flat. There are a few attempts at showing us the world through our depressed leading lady’s eyes. But with some blurring effects and subtle color choices it didn’t rise to the occasion of creating the altered reality of someone in a serious depression. Again, it feels like an abbreviated version of what kind of film it could have been. I foresee it being very easily edited to be on network TV in a short period of time.

So, do I hate it? No, it’s worth a watch if you like the book. If you are a fan of Lange PLEASE get this in your collection. If you are looking for a real journey through the pain and destructiveness of being clinically depressed, or any other story where a character falls into the grip of an addiction or mental illness, grab Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or A Beautiful Mind.

Value: 5/10
For around $20.00 Prozac Nation is not a DVD to add to your collection. This is an average film on a DVD with nothing more to offer than a brief extra. I don’t recommend buying this disk, but I wouldn’t say to skip the movie all together. Lange is wonderful and Ricci, while she’s too wooden and theatrical for me, this is part of her acting career journey and if you are a fan you will want to see her in this more grown up role.

Overall Score 5/5