March 1, 2005

Christina Ricci Makes Our Skin Itch

In a recent post, Cinecultist expressed an interest in seeing the much delayed adaptation of Elizabeth Wurtzel's 1994 book Prozac Nation which is available on DVD outside of the States but never found theatrical release despite a Miramax distribution deal. Apparently, the cinema gods were smiling on our curiosity because a few weeks afterwards with skinny Christina Ricci still lurking in the recesses of CC's mind, our co-worker dropped on our desk a VHS screener copy of the picture which is due for a release on cable channel Starz! in March.

With much anticipation CC watched Prozac Nation last week and we're pleased to report this film has issues no amount of time on the script doctor's couch could cure. It'd make for a great story to think Wurtzel's ill-timed and totally insensitive remarks regarding 9/11 doomed the film's release, but that may be giving her too much credit. Frankly, Elizabeth Wurtzel as played by Ricci is so repugnant, self-centered and whinny CC wanted to leap through the screen to throttle her. We haven't had this violent a reaction against a character since, uh well, Amanda the repugnant, self-centered neurotic whiner Ricci played in Woody Allen's Anything Else.

Unlike Amanda, who's mostly a projection of the penultimate High Maintenance girlfriend by the Allen surrogate played by Jason Biggs, Elizabeth fancies herself mysterious and sexy in her HM-ness. She prances about most of the film giving various Harvard undergrads her dorm room eyes or launching into crying jags for the benefit of her best girlfriend Ruby (Michelle Williams). All of this typical co-ed behavior might be relatively compelling if it weren't for the grossly incongruous details thrown in.

Tell tale signs things aren't going well for you -- Anne Heche is judging your sanity and prescribing you medication (she plays Elizabeth's therapist). You dump Jonathan Rhys Meyers after you offer him your virginity because he doesn't understand that sophisticate girls treat sex like it was a nail appointment.You describe Biggs as "a tall, sexy intellectual type" on the phone to your Mom (Jessica Lange). Then, when he breaks your heart because he's 19 and YOU'RE A HEINOUS BITCH, you invent the telephone stalk. (Did they have stalking before the early '90s?)

The film wraps up all of this weirdness with what sounds like a direct quote from Wurtzel's book about how we all live in a prozac nation, one devoid of genuine emotion just drugged up blahness. So taking too much prozac is a bad thing? No the film says, because on prozac Elizabeth was able to write again and everything was happy, tra la la, The End. Wha? Granted, Cinecultist had started flipping through a fashion magazine at this point, but we really don't think there was a further plot point/argument which bridged together the Hollywood happy ending with what seems to be Wurtzel's indictment of therapeutic drugs (i.e.. she's rather feel, than function).

Posted by karen at March 1, 2005 8:58 AM