55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to my nightmare, Welcome to my breakdown
Evidently based on a true story, 'Prozac Nation' documents the life of Elizabeth Wurtzel (played expertly by Christina Ricci), a young woman from a unstable broken family, earns a scholarship to Harvard for a journalism degree. It's no surprise that Lizzie is depressed, her parents are each dysfunctional in their own right. Lizzie's mother (skillfully played by Jessica...
Published on January 11, 2006 by Schtinky
47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Personality disorder first, depression second
What strikes me most about this film is that nearly all information about it depicts it as a young woman's struggle with depression. The character (at least in the movie) being portrayed certainly appears to be experiencing depression, to be sure. However, barely 15 minutes into this picture, the presence of her Borderline Personality Disorder is amazingly clear. This...
Published on February 5, 2008 by J. Morganstein
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to my nightmare, Welcome to my breakdown,
Evidently based on a true story, 'Prozac Nation' documents the life of Elizabeth Wurtzel (played expertly by Christina Ricci), a young woman from a unstable broken family, earns a scholarship to Harvard for a journalism degree. It's no surprise that Lizzie is depressed, her parents are each dysfunctional in their own right. Lizzie's mother (skillfully played by Jessica Lange) worries that Lizzie will isolate herself in college. Lizzie tries not to let her mother down, but depression is not a beast that is so easily tamed.
Isolation, substance abuse, withdrawing, avoiding conflict, staying up for days, brain-cycling (like a short circuit), not bathing, sudden outbursts of anger, fear of becoming close to others, subconscious attempts to prove oneself unworthy, obsessive-compulsive behavior, all are signs of clinical depression. 'Prozac Nation', with the expert performance of Christina Ricci, shows every inch of Lizzie's slide into deeper and deeper depression.
At one point, Lizzie says, "How can I escape the demons in my head?" As a person being successfully treated for clinical depression, this phrase alone literally struck home with me. 'Prozac Nation' is an all-out, no-holes-barred look at what it is like to suffer from this disorder. The movie is very well done, and you will either find yourself identifying with Lizzie or hating her for being self-centered.
Thrown into the mix is the fact that Lizzie is a writer, and very few of the most talented writers would be considered 'normal' people. Lizzie herself even uses a quote from Hemmingway's "The Sun Also Rises" and finds identity within it. Good writers stay inside their own head too much, and Lizzie has talent in her work, winning the College Journalism Award for 1985.
During the course of coping with college, alienating her parents and her best friend, and eventually her boyfriend, Lizzie finds herself in therapy again with Dr. Sterling (played very well, surprisingly, by Anne Heche). It isn't until many visits with Dr. Sterling and eventually a prescription for Prozac to help her "gain some perspective and stop spinning out of control". At this point, I thought it was a little funny that Lizzie referred to her pharmacy as a "legal crackhouse".
I thought that this was a beautifully done movie about the realism of clinical depression. Well filmed, well acted, well set, and with a great script, 'Prozac Nation' deserves much more recognition than it got. I consider this movie a "buy". Enjoy!
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Movie Gets You Gradually... Then Suddenly,
Aside from the starting scene with a completely naked Christina Ricci, it may well be one of my all-time favorite movies. Though, I am sure, my reasons for that may be the same reasons many people will not understand the movie at all. Let me give you a quick spill on what the movie is about.
It is based on the by Elizabeth Wurtzel, the true story of a girl (Lizzie) in the 80's who goes on Prozac. She is depressed. The movie shows her experiences at college as she spirals to the point of being put on Prozac.
Now, why did I like this movie so much? There are a couple of reasons. One was the camera angles. I am not usually one who even notices that stuff, but there were some really interesting shots in this movie. It gave another dimension to the story. Second, the lines. There were some amazing lines about depression. One that I remember was, "One moring you wake up and realize you're afraid you might live." Repeat that to yourself. Think about it. If you have ever been in a clinical state of depression, you understand that statement. It feels real on your tongue, familiar in your mouth. You may have even said it.
The main reason that I liked this movie had nothing to do with anything artistic. I loved and hated Lizzie all at one time, because I could see myself in her. Granted, I skipped out on drugs, alcohol, and smoking. I was never one to sling my anger to the outside, as she did. At least, not as often. But the things she was feeling. How she would do things she didn't want to do and couldn't understand how they were happening, why she was needing to do them... I have been there. In one scene, where she is arguing with her mother, yelling, screaming, bouncing violently between begging forgiveness and spewing hatred, it was like looking in a mirror. The way she held her head as she cried. You could see the tension in her arms. She wanted to run, to hit and throw. It wouldn't have surprised me if she had turned and banged her head into the nearest wall.
Her actions were not strange to me.
After one line, my husband turned to me and said, "Is that how you feel?" And I had to nod. The line... Lizzie was sitting at a table, waiting on the next guy she would throw herself at, the one she had chosen to be her salvation, and you can hear her thoughts. In her head, she says, "Don't let him know how crazy you are." They didn't have to tell me that is what she was thinking though. I already knew.
I don't know how I feel about that, so I am not going to write anymore about this movie right now. Suffice it to say that it was well done.
47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Personality disorder first, depression second,
What strikes me most about this film is that nearly all information about it depicts it as a young woman's struggle with depression. The character (at least in the movie) being portrayed certainly appears to be experiencing depression, to be sure. However, barely 15 minutes into this picture, the presence of her Borderline Personality Disorder is amazingly clear. This condition, often accompanied by depression, exerts an impact on the effected person that can span from problematic to disabling. It is often overwhelming for the individual, people around them and care providers. I comment on this to clarify that the person depicted in this film is not, by any stretch of the imagination, merely dealing with "depression". Truthfully, that was probably the least of her struggles. While I certainly don't know what this woman went through, the notion that people would come to see her experience as characteristic of merely "depression" is troubling indeed. As a mental health provider who has worked with people experiencing Borderline Personality Disorder, depression or both, it's vital to understand the importance of disordered personality in a person struggles. Most people with depression do not cut themselves, flirt persistently with suicide, behave impulsively with regard to sex and drugs, or have acute and unpredictable episodes of anger, hostility or cruelty toward others; all of those are common features of Borderline Personality Disorder. Perhaps the most poignant line in the film comes when Elizabeth's friend Ruby, with tears in her eyes, appears to stun and anger Elizabeth by stating "I'm not crying because of what you said. I'm crying because I can't imagine how painful it must be to be you." Individuals suffering from this personality disorder may sum it up exactly this way.
For clarity, depression is a mental health condition with natural periods of periods of mood change, difficulty with sleep, energy, guilt, loss of interest, problems concentrating, reduced appetite and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts and/or behavior. A loss of interest in sexual activity, and feelings of hopelessness or helplessness can occur as well. For nearly all people experiencing depression, these episodes will eventually resolve in weeks or months, even if untreated. By contrast, Borderline personality disorder is a far more enduring pattern of thoughts and behaviors that profoundly effect how a person relates to others and the world around them. The latter much more accurately represents the individual depicted in this film. Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder can co-exist. However, confusing them altogether, as this movie and all advertising around it do quite effectively, is misleading at best.
What I really appreciated about the film is the main character's awareness that her own life experiences were playing a role in her perceptions of the world. The use of Prozac, which is central to the title but having only a bit part in the film, is seen not as a fix-all but, rather, as a compliment to an understanding of her experiences and behaviors through therapy and self-exploration. This film does a great cinematic job portraying the experiences of what it's like to be around someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. However, it's only through Ricci's voice-over during the film, which share the character's thoughts, that viewers may have some sense of what it's like to actually live with this condition. The characters struggle and eventually reconciling to a treatment involving self-exploration, medications and therapy will satisfy some but likely raise the ire of those opposed to the concept of mental health care or the use of psychoactive medications.
I'd give it 4 stars, but took 1 off because of the off-the-mark depiction of "depression", which tells only half the tale regarding the individual portrayed in this film, leaving the role of personality disorder completely hidden from view.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beauty of subtlety,
Fine performances from an excellent cast (Christina Ricci and two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange), as well as an extremely well-written (and sublimely subtle) screenplay, make PROZAC NATION underrated--and nearly a masterpiece! The film is not incredibly fast-moving, but it is thoughtful and sensitive, as is Lizzie (the main character). As her boyfriend says at a point in the film, everything she feels is felt deep down inside of her.
Things happen to her that happen to many teenage girls, but to her they cut deeper--are more hurtful. It is this sensitivity that makes Lizzie prone to depression. Some of the experiences she encounters at college--the brutal drinking and drugs scene (which anyone who has been a college student is probably aware of) as well as the random, loveless hookups--get the best of her and she finds herself spiraling out of control.
She dreams of being a writer, but how can she write when the world around her is so careless and hurtful? The same boy who hooks up with her and leads her into a dangerous drug addiction also denies being her friend once she has given up drugs (for her health). After making love to her, he said that drugs and sex were both on the same meaningless level to him. When she reacts by objectifying the sex they had and considering it meaningless, he is angered! This represents a double standard, highlighted in the film--although men can objectify sex, when a woman does the same thing she is looked badly upon (Lizzie, actually, was waiting to lose her virginity by someone who loved her, but he surely did not).
It is all of these experiences, combined with the loss of her dad four years before and the stresses of college and writing that send Lizzie into depression--and it is a depression easily understood, for it is partly society-based. What does it say about our society that doctors need to issue over 300 million prozac prescriptions in a year? Are we solving society's problems or just glossing over the natural, emotional reactions of an individual living under a flawed system? How can we fix the deeper problem by glossing over the issue with Prozac? As Lizzie says, "this is not the real me." It is the drug, and we are living in a prozac nation. These are the questions brought up by the very intelligent and moving film, PROZAC NATION.
Perhaps the controversy outweighs the high quality and explains why this film so low-rated. Surely, the mindless and unsubtle "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" did not deserve a higher rating, but of course exorcisms are not nearly as controversial as the problems of Prozac and the society that needs it--because exorcisms are not a real threat.
When films are made about real threats to our society, they are ignored, banned, or badly reviewed. Remember that Prozac Nation did not make it to theaters.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Story Great Acting!,
It's silly to berate a movie that hasn't even come out. Having read the book, and been down the road of chronic depression for many months, I have to disagree with the first preview that claims this movie unworthy because of the image Wurtzel gives us of depression. Depression, sorry to burst Violetta's bubble, it a unique, personal hard fought battle for evey individual who suffers from it. That just happened to be Wurtzel's experience with her own depression. Needless to say I give the book my highest rating and hope to do the same with the movie. Prozac Nation was one of those movies I wanted to see as soon as I heard about it. I have seen the trailer a few times and couldn't wait for the film to be released into theaters. It was at first in limited release, which I don't understand why since it is a mainstream movie but anyway it finally arrived to my local theater today. So as soon as I could I rushed to the theater to see Prozac Nation.
The movie's plot is very simple but at the same time very complex, Lizzie played by the beautiful and talented Christina Ricci is a depressed girl. Following up his critically acclaimed debut Insomnia (1997), Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjaerg makes his first English-language feature with this adaptation of the novel by Elizabeth Wurtzel. 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. Prozac Nation (2001) is a longtime dream project of star Ricci, who also serves as one of the film's co-producers. Prozac Nation then starts to develop into an unusual and original movie, which I for one have never seen before. A lot of symbolism, terrific acting, and a lot of dark past scenes ensue.
In this film I really could not believe the acting. It was terrific all around. Christina Ricci proves that she can hold a lead role and do it flawlessly. Her role was perfect and involved a lot of different emotions, which she played off like a natural. But Christina Ricci's acting isn't the highlight of this film, that award goes to Jessica Lange who plays her role like she actually was going though this in real life. Her incredible acting kept getting stronger throughout the entire film. The supporting actors and actresses were all good as well. Michelle Williams who played Ruby, was really good in her role. Emily Perkins who played Ellen was very good as well as Anne Heche who played the doctor Sterling.
The film's script was another strong point. It was very good! I never knew what was going to happen next. I thought I did a few times but I was wrong. The script also had a lot of symbolism in it and if you watch the movie closely you will be able to catch it. I also like how the movie didn't have the typical Hollywood ending at the end. It was very different and I didn't expect what happened to happen. The writer, Galt Niederhoffer did a great job and surprisingly this was his second film. I wish I could shake this man's hand for making such a great piece of cinema. I am really looking forward to his next movie Lonesome Jim that comes out in 2005. I loved the director's use of camera angles and the many views of various landscapes and the sky. It was very creative.
So what else can I say about the film, it was very independent like which I am sure will turn the normal moviegoers off right away. The movie moves slowly to build its story and suspense. It does this flawlessly. It's really amazing. If you want a great movie that has an unusual and original story, great acting and lots of hidden messages and symbolism then go see Prozac Nation and enjoy. If you don't like movies that make you think then skip this one because it's not for you. It was a terrific film from a great new director.I've been looking forward to seeing Prozac Nation since I first saw the poster for the film. The poster itself seemed rather amusing and then when I had seen the trailer for the film and wanted to watch the film even more. I usually enjoy Christina Ricci on the big screen. She is definitely a great actress. Lots of clever dialog, great acting, and a unique story ensue.
The acting in the film was top notch. I think Christina Ricci's performance was very noteworthy. I liked her character. Lizzie was nice girl who was very sweet and innocent. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers performance was another great role for his resume. I liked how his character had many sides to him. I felt they all played their characters well.
I think what is amazing about the script is the fact that a. the writer never wrote a film anything like it before and b. it's a very original film. I know I haven't seen every movie but I never seen a movie like this. The story was unique, the characters were likable, and the dialog was rather clever. I applaud these two screenwriters for their effort on the script. Sadly I doubt the movie will do well. There was only three people in the theater counting me and the story is rather odd and original so I don't know if it will really trigger much interest from the typical moviegoers.
Erik Skjoldbjærg was the director of Prozac Nation. I have not seen his movies Insomnia yet but I'll watch it as soon as I can get my paws on it. I liked how in the film, Erik Skjoldbjærg really captured being in Harvard and being depressed, showing everyone in the opening scene of the film. It really lets you know how life is for Lizzie. The director also did a good job of directing the actors and making them connect. I really felt for the characters in this film. I liked that they had this great connection with each other on screen.
So to summarize, I overall really enjoyed Prozac Nation. The cast is great, as is its story. I feel the film won't attract much attention since the crap fest wholesome teen movies and sex comedies rule the box office, it's an indie film and the fact that Prozac Nation itself isn't aimed at the average moviegoer crowd. I recommend this film though to anyone who wants to see a film that is smart, original and witty. It delivers great performances and some sad moments. I really enjoyed the film and will probably go see it again if I can.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The book is always better,
I thought that the main problem with Prozac Nation was that it just seemed to lack focus. The movie obviously compressed a lot of details in the book, but I think if it had just focused on the main crisis of the book, the character's descent into depression would have been easier to understand and empathize. As it was, it tried to do that, but it also tried to cram in other things, and I feel that if I hadn't read the book or gone through something similar myself, I would not have understood why Lizzie was so afflicted at this particular point in her life.
I thought the acting was excellent: Michelle Williams and Jason Biggs were great, and Christina Ricci was phenomenal, capturing the entire range of the pain and anger and self-loathing of depression. I thought Jessica Lange put in a good performance, although her bizarre accent and the fact that she in no way resembles the darker and petite Christina Ricci was really distracting. I was simply unable to believe she was her mother, and certainly not a Jewish mother.
If you've suffered from severe depression, then watch it and know that there are other people who feel the same way you do and think the same thoughts as you, and who would understand why you feel and act the way you do. Otherwise, skip it. If you don't understand depression before going into the film, it is unlikely that this it will shed any light on the topic for you. It's pretty much impossible to understand unless you've been there yourself.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It Takes One to Know One.",
As I was renting this DVD at the store, I was told by the clerk that this film was just crap, and that he just wished that Christina Ricci's character just kill herself. I rented it anyways, because I wanted to see Jessica Lange. I am aware that this film had been made more than two years ago, and finally went straight to video. What a drag? That didn't stop me from enjoying this film, and just the same reason I was so sympathetic towards depressed characters like last years Kim Basinger in The Door In The Floor. This film certainly devides the audiences into two sides. One will understand and appreciate the importance of the mental health issues dealt with in this film, and the others will reject and hate this film because they can't relate to what it's like to be in Elizabeth's shoes. The bottom line is that being depressed is hard enough, and sometimes beyond the theapy sessions, the anti-depressants have to be the final treatment, despite the lack of acceptance by non-depressed folks.
Yes, I can relate to Christina Ricci's situation. Her self-centered and irresponsible father(Nicolas Campbell) abandoned her at teenage, leaving in the custody of her neurotic and controlling mother(Lange). She's a talented and aspiring journalist/music critic. Her mother gave her all to make sure she gets into Harvard, but things turned ugly when her friendship and relationships goes into chaos, and she gradually falls into a deep state of depression. Sadly, her mother doesn't understand why she can't "get over it" and stop being self-destructive. She is sent to many theapy sessions with Dr. Sterling(a subtle and confident Anne Heche), but she still had to go on Prozac for good, at least until she's back to herself again....
Jessica Lange and Christina Ricci had numerous heavy duty emotional fight scenes together, and they were equally powerful and mesmerizing. Michelle Williams and Jason Biggs had some strong moments to work with as Ricci's best friend and love interest. Overall, this film has TV movie of the week feel and it's weakness is on the direction and editing mostly. The cast is much more worthwhile.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars does not deserve the bad rap.,
Most critics of the film are not repulsed by the acting or directing, by Ricci's character Lizzie. It is easy to understand why; Lizzie is often self-centered, possessive, and hurts the ones she loves. But since when any of us were perfect? In many books and films, the young heroines usually learn that by being good and 'doing the right thing' everything will surely result in growing up, with a happy ending. And here is Lizzie, who falls into depression 'gradually then suddenly'; with divorced parents who are constantly in a tug-of-war, with Lizzie in the middle. She begins a journalism career at Harvard, and it seems as though she will finally have a happier new start. But of course, it doesn't turn out that way. She falls into drugs and bad relationships. Depression catches up with Lizzie, and it starts to gnaw at her life. Depression can affect anyone; even if you are the most fortunate person in the world you can get up in the morning, afraid to live. And Lizzie's life wasn't so easy either. She often explodes at her friends and her family, sometimes with good reason and often just based on a whim. The remarkable thing about Ricci's acting is that throughout the film we can see everything from Lizzie's point of view, and understand what she is going through. Many of us can identify with her. Elizabeth Wurtzel perfectly describes how depression feels like, like a cancer that invades every part of the body, or like having no soul/spirit at all. You feel sorry for Elizabeth in the movie, because everything seems so frustrating and spinning out of control. Yes, she screams and has "tantrums"; I have read many criticisms on the movie because of that. But she is still young, and I can't find a person who didn't feel like screaming at least once during their teens, even without depression. She seems juvenile and self- centered, which of course she is. She comes to abrupt, obscure conclusions without properly rationalizing. I must repeat: Lizzie is not the heroine that rules the movies with flawless love and kindness to others. She is not Amelie. And I love Lizzie because she is so human.
This is why I like this film, though not all may. If you are into flawless young heroines who will always have a happy ending, this movie may not be for you. But for everyone else, this is.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'P N' has insight into world of depression!,
I loved this movie. Ms. Ricci's acting has grown far beyond her role as 'Wednesday Addams' in the Addams family pictures, she made me want to either cry or hug her and tell her that it would be okay. I saw my mother and I in her interactions with Jessica Lange. This was a well-made film and it showed what it is like to be depressed from the depressed individual's POV. All of the actors were wonderful, the script was excellent, the cinematography was spot-on. I really felt for these people. I am recommending this movie to everyone that I meet!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It gets its point across very well,
I bought this DVD today and just finished watching it for the first time. It is a tough subject and I don't really know if you can accurately depict true mental depression in a film: a book can spend a lot of time getting under your skin and into your head; this film only runs approx. 91 minutes.
My initial feelings were that it is, from someone who has never taken any anti-depression drugs (because I refused to when it was recommended to do otherwise), an honest film; perhaps as close to reality as a movie on this subject can get. "Prozac Nation" did a damn good job in my humble opinion and it was without the typical cliches` and acted by everyone extremely well, especially Christina Ricci and Jessica Lange. Recommended to anyone who wants to get closer to a true-life story on this subject.
Also thought that those reviewers who discarded the film, suggesting the character just "get over it" were a bit harsh.
A depressed person is often unreasoning. So how can it possibly accept "get over it" as an answer?
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