email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training12 and Holding3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days49 Up5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band56 UpA Beautiful MindA Dangerous MethodA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA.M. EnergyAbout SchmidtAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAddictionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlexander the LastAM/PM YogaAmerican TeacherAthlete's Guide to YogaAutism and MeBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBeautiful DreamersBecoming OrgasmicBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBetter Sex Through YogaBeyond HatredBilly the KidBlue Is the Warmest ColorBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBoy InterruptedBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBreath-Centered YogaBuying SexCalm Body Clear MindCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberCinema's Sinister PsychiatristsCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingClassical Pilates Technique DVDClimatesCoastCollege Inc.Comedy IncarnateCommuneCompulsionControlCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCriminal JusticeCriminal Justice 2DahmerDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDark Beginnings of Sherlock HolmesDarwin's Brave New WorldDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDeleuze and the Concepts of CinemaDetox YogaDirty Filthy Love DVDDoc Martin Series 2Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEl Doctor, Joy Street & AsparagusElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthics at the CinemaEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Examined LifeExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptExileExperimenterFacing Death: Elisabeth Kubler-RossFagbugFamily YogaFilm StudiesFire on the Mountain DVDFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFragile DVDGabriel & MeGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGet RIPPED! 1000 #3Get RIPPED! and Jacked - The Boomer WorkoutGirl, InterruptedGirlhoodGoddess WorshipGood FortuneHalf Broken ThingsHappy Yoga DVDHard CandyHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing VoicesHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHeimaHelvetica: A documentary filmHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHer ThirdHigh HopesHit & MissHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy IdentityIn My SkinIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Realms of the UnrealIn Treatment: Season 1Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntense Games DVDInto Great SilenceIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Kind of a Funny StoryIt's Not Me, I Swear!Janis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaJellyfishJulien Donkey-BoyJunebugKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKingdom Series 2Kingdom: Series ThreeKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLa SierraLand GirlsLand Girls Series 2Lars and the Real GirlLast Train HomeLeaving Las VegasLetting Go!Lie to Me: Season OneLife On MarsLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Listening to the WorldLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLouise BourgeoisLunacyLunar Flow YogaMad, Bad and Dangerous?MaidentripManicManufactured LandscapesMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMementoMethadoniaMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingMonsterMother and SonMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurderballMurderlandMurphy's LawMurphy's Law Series 2My Flesh and BloodMy Sister's KeeperMysterious CreaturesNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1New American TeenagersNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNew Sex Now DVDNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNormalNotes on a ScandalNurembergOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOrgasm Inc.Pain Free at WorkPeople Like OurselvesPeople Love PhotosPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPhantom Museums DVDPhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhrenologyPieces of AprilPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPink Ribbons, Inc.PollockPop & MePornographyPornographyPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPrince of PrisonersPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProofProzac NationPsycho ThrillersPublic EnemiesPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQuick Blast MethodRachel Getting MarriedRadiant Heart Yoga DVDRain ManRated X - A Journey Through PornReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaRelative StrangersRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsRequiem for a Dream DVDResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDScreening SexSeeing Fictions in FilmSeeing the LightSergeant Cribb - The Complete SeriesSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDShameShort Term 12SickoSmashedSolar Flow Yoga DVDSpeakSpecial TreatmentSpectacular NowStarting Out in the EveningStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStephen Fry in AmericaStrandedStranger Than FictionStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSunset StorySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2SylviaSynecdoche New YorkTai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTarnationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTemple GrandinTen Zen Tummy TonersTerrence MalickThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe ClassThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Devil, ProbablyThe f WordThe f WordThe f WordThe F Word - Series ThreeThe f Word -- Series FourThe FIRM Power Yoga DVDThe Horse BoyThe Matrix and PhilosophyThe Medicated ChildThe Perfect ExerciseThe Philosophy of Motion PicturesThe Power of ForgivenessThe Qi Healing KitThe ReaderThe SavagesThe Snake PitThe Stanford Prison ExperimentThe Street Complete CollectionThe Suicide TouristThe Three Faces of EveThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Way Way BackThinThinking XXXThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThrough A Dog's EyesThrough Deaf EyesThumbsuckerTierney GearonTo the WonderToday and TomorrowTotal-Body ToningTransTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTrial and RetributionTrial and Retribution: Set 1Trial and Retribution: Set 3Trudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUnderstanding LoveUnforgettableUp the YangtzeV-Core WorkoutViniyoga Therapy for AnxietyViniyoga Therapy for DepressionViniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersWaking LifeWalk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWall: A World DividedWeight Loss Cardio KickWhat Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWhat to Do When Someone DiesWhen Did You Last See Your Father?When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas after ColumbusWrinklesWristcutters: A Love StoryWrong Side of the BusYin Yoga DVDYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogawoman[email protected]Your Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVD
Prozac Nation was a memorable memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel about her dysfunctional adolescence and college years. Wurtzel's bitchy self-deprecation and righteous indignation made her a charismatic narrator. It is a book beloved especially by young women who themselves have a reputation for being difficult. Wurtzel is brilliant and self-destructive, and despite the pressures of being an undergraduate at Harvard University on a journalism scholarship, she manages to not only survive but also get published by Rolling Stone magazine. Because the story is told from her point of view, it is easy to sympathize with her even when she is being especially irrational. When she goes on Prozac, and becomes calmer, we are pleased for her.
When in the film version of Prozac Nation, Christina Ricci's Lizzie goes on Prozac, we are pleased not so much for her but rather all those around her, because they don't have to deal with her annoying behavior so much. We might be just as pleased if she had been put in a straightjacket. The problem for the movie is that inevitably, we see Lizzie through the eyes of others, and she is not a sympathetic character. This is enhanced by Ricci's performance, which really brings out Lizzie's dislikable traits. Ricci is far from the doe-eyed Winona Ryder's portrayal of Susanna Kaysen in the movie version of Girl, Interrupted, and we are not inclined to think that she just needs to be understood or given some sympathy. She is closer to the character played by Angelina Jolie in the same film, angry and manipulative, but Ricci does not have the smoldering sexuality of Jolie, which is largely what helped win her over to audiences in that film. In this film, Ricci does a great deal of voice-over, saying the words of Wurtzel from the book, and that certainly makes the film more interesting, but for the film, actions speak louder than words. Lizzie tries the patience of her mother, her friends and her boyfriends, and she is impossible to be with. Even when she makes a suicidal gesture at the end of the film, it just seems like manipulation rather than despair.
This movie was made in 2000 in many locations, and after being bought by Miramax in 2001 was originally scheduled to be released in US theatres in 2002, but kept on getting delayed and eventually was released only to DVD in 2005. Clearly the movie studio lost confidence that audiences would like it, and since its release the DVD has received mostly unenthusiastic reviews. While it is a film about mental illness, the studio has resorted to showing Ricci lying topless on a mattress on the front cover, and looking voluptuous in a satin night dress on the back. (Ricci does appear nude in the film, quite gratuitously, sitting on her bed naked at the start while her mother comes in and urges her to prepare for her first day at college. But the film has very little sensuality or pleasure -- Lizzie tends to be either sullen or frenzied.) The film does have some major stars, yet their presences do not help much. Jessica Lange plays Lizzie's mother, often seeming just as angry and twisted as her daughter, and she seems to overact in these scenes. In other scenes she is hurt and confused by Lizzie's behavior, and we feel more sympathetic for her. The icy Anne Heche plays Lizzie's psychotherapist, in a rather stilted performance who manages to ride out Lizzie's tantrums, although we get very little sense of what goes on between the two of them. Jason Biggs plays one of Lizzie's boyfriends, who does a passable job, although he is a little wooden. The direction by Norwegian Erik Skjoldbjaerg (who directed the original version of Insomnia) is not bad, although the film as a whole never seems to come together, and sometimes it feels clichéd like a made-for-TV movie. In an interesting shot in the "Anatomy of a Scene" show about the film, we see that the original screenplay of Prozac Nation was written by Galt Neiderhoffer and Alex Orlovsky, and was then rewritten by Frank Deasy, another sign that the directors and producers could not decide what they wanted to do with the story.
Yet it seems uncharitable to blame the individuals involved for the artistic problems of the film. The problem is more fundamental: the whole project of trying to make a Hollywood movie of Prozac Nation is ridiculous, because the lead character is so unlikable. The DVD does not have any extras except for a standard Sundance "Anatomy of a Scene," but it would have been fascinating to see the director's cut, hear a frank commentary about the making of the film, and see what scenes were deleted, because one might have got a sense of the attempts that the producers made to make the film more commercial. The film would have had more chance of success if it had given up on the attempt to make Lizzie a character to identify with, and rather had gone the other way, being more antagonistic to Lizzie. As an independent movie with a more experimental approach, it would have had more room to explore other aspects of the story. The reference to the antidepressant Prozac makes one think it is a film about depression, but if anything it is about personality disorder. We know from Wurtzel's subsequent memoir More, Now, Again that Prozac did not help her in the long term, and she headed headlong into addiction. Yet even without that knowledge, we could see from Ricci's fluctuating moods and her constant twisting of people close to her that this is not about straightforward depressed moods. In the "Anatomy of a Scene," the writer and director talk a lot about depression, and maybe this is another cause of their problems, because they seem to fundamentally miss the fact that depression is only a small element in Lizzie's psychological profile. It is only because they keep close to the tenor of Wurtzel's book that they retain some consistency.
So this film is flawed, but Ricci's performance is very strong in capturing Wurtzel's unsympathetic character. Anyone who is interested in films depicting mental disorder should see this precisely because of the questions it raises about what disorder Lizzie has and how it might be possible to depict those who behave in such ways with more compassion.
· Review of Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
· Review of More, Now, Again by Elizabeth Wurtzel
· Review of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.
· Review of Girl, Interrupted DVD
© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.
Comment on this review