PSIPOOK | film | prozac nation


  Prozac Nation
Starring: Christina Ricci, Jessica Lange, Nicholas Campbell
Director: Erik Skjoldbjærg


Elizabeth seems to be rising above the difficulties of her upbringing as a single child to a divorced mother and a remote, disinterested father. She is a gifted writer and something of a prodigy. Her mother has burdened her with all her with her own hopes and aspirations and has pushed her to go to Harvard despite their financial hardships. Don’t make the same mistakes as me, girl — get a life! Elizabeth makes it to Harvard on a journalism scholarship and just as the future starts to look rosy, things start to fall apart. She wins a Rolling Stone journalism prize, becomes compulsive in her behaviour and begins to suffer major mood swings and depression. She is a Jeckyl and Hyde character: no one can predict whether she will be fun and affectionate or will be paranoid and abusive. She bounces from one guy to another looking for approval, but tests the relationships to breaking point, creating self-fulfilling expectations of rejection that put her into an emotional tail spin into breakdown.

As is the way with depression, neither Elizabeth nor those around her recognise the condition as a clinical disorder in need of treatment until the damage is done.

Elizabeth is Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of best-seller Prozac Nation, the account of her struggle with chronic depression as a young Harvard undergrad. In this movie director Erik Skjoldbjærg — the Norwegian director of the compelling Insomnia — recreates her story with sympathy and sensitivity. Wurzel is played by the excellent Christina Ricci who honed her moody skills as Wednesday Addams in the Addams family movies and is proving herself an actor of range and talent. Jessica Lange turns in a convincing performance as Elizabeth’s dominating mother, as does Nicholas Campbell as her insincere and shambolic father.

I’ll let you into a secret: this reviewer suffers from bouts of acute depression, but only when he has to review Hollywood blockbusters. Prozac Nation is no blockbuster and despite its subject is uplifting for its complete lack of hubris and for its humanity and for its insight into this misunderstood condition that afflicts millions.

Review by Chris Page

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