Prozac Nation

on September 08, 2001 by Kevin Courrier
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"Prozac Nation" is like a drug unto itself. Pop journalist Elizabeth Wurtzel's memoir becomes the basis for such a campy and narcissistic tear-jerker that it's the audience that ends up in a complete stupor. Wurtzel, an award-winning student from a wildly dysfunctional Jewish family, cracked up during her college years in the late '80s, leading her to a dependency on the wonder drug Prozac. Eventually pulling herself together, she wrote a memoir on which Norwegian Erik Skjoldbjaerg's film is based.

Whether it's an unfamiliarity with American culture or a perverse attraction to hyperbole, Skjoldbjaerg encourages some of the actors to whip up a storm. Christina Ricci, who plays Wurtzel as the most misunderstood young woman on the planet, is embarrassingly self-conscious in the part. Ricci makes Wurtzel so obnoxiously conceited and reckless in hurting those who truly care for her that we can't possibly worry about what happens to her. We're also supposed to see her as the ultimate victim of a narcotized world, but the only real victims here are her friends.

Jessica Lange, who played a scorned woman with a stormy brilliance in films like "Frances" and "Blue Sky," turns in a howler of performance as Elizabeth's mother. Lange, who's completely miscast as a frantically neurotic Jewish mother, chews up so much scenery that it's a wonder there was any set left for the camera to shoot. Only Jason Biggs ("American Pie") as Elizabeth's very sane boyfriend, and Michelle Williams as her beleaguered roommate, ground this movie in recognizable human behavior. "Prozac Nation" is a movie desperately in need of medication. Starring Christina Ricci, Jessica Lange, Jason Biggs, Anne Heche and Michelle Williams. Directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg. Written by Galt Niederhofer and Alex Orlovsky. Produced by Galt Niederhoffer, Brad Weston and R. Paul Miller. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated R for language, drug content, sexuality/nudity and some disturbing images. Running time: 98 min

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