Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Prozac Nation


We watched Prozac Nation, which has finally been released on video after four years waiting.

Ok, I have a stupid nitpick to get out of system before I discuss the actual quality of the movie. It all surrounds Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen. She goes off to Harvard in September. She has a poster for "Tunnel of Love" on the wall of her bedroom before she leaves, which appears on the wall of her dorm when she gets there, despite not being packed on the day she was leaving... and she, despite having remarkable wallspace for a dorm room, she only has that one poster. I don't believe that at any time there was a nineteen year old Springsteen fanatic who had a "Tunnel of Love" poster and only a "Tunnel of Love" poster on their wall. Not Born To Run, not Nebraska, not Born in the U.S.A....

But here's the real issue. A while after arriving, we see her win a writing award for 1985. Could it have been mid-1986 with a long judging period? Well, winter came. Winter break passes. Then it becomes late January... In fact, it becomes quite obviously January 28, 1986. "Tunnel of Love" came out in 1987. To some, this would be unnoticable. But since this all took place during my own formative years, it stood out. And, really, in telling a story about a fanatical Springsteen or just music fan, details like that count for a lot.

Anyway, there was a whole movie.

Erik Skjoldbjærg does a fine job creating a mood, the chaos and loneliness of depression. The acting is amazing. Christina Ricci and Jessica Lange are both excellent. Michelle Williams is solid and real.

I'm not sure how people who haven't lived with depression or depressed people would relate. I'm not sure it does as well as a great movie would have at evoking it in a universal kind of way, but for those of us with experience with it in our lives, it was quite emotional and honest.

Just to note, her dad, aside from being more serious, is dead-on what mine is like. The guy who never calls and can't actually help but struggles with his all to do anything but actually say he won't help. That shitty bastard is my father, and that was the hardest part for me to watch.

There are, for me, two basic flaws. One is that Elizabeth Wurtzel is a terrible writer and we're forced to listen to quite a bit of her writing in voice over. Hearing her essays on Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen is truly painful. The other is the basic fact that depression lacks any cinematic arc and their solution feels shoe-horned in.

But really, the emotion and truth, and the direction is tremendously evocative. Not just of depression, but peculiar things... there's a moment at a Lou Reed show where she turns to listen and the camera moves in and the music fades out and we almost only hear Lou a capella that I thought was a very true moment of a concert moment.

And, yeah, Christina Ricci shows her bosoms, and they are quite lovely. That's a very early, and quite awkward scene, though.

It's gotten bad notices, but it's definitely worth checking out.

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