During a trip to the surprisingly devoid-of-books West Charleston Library last week, the girlfriend and I decided to pick up a DVD, and for whatever reason, we grabbed Prozac Nation, the 2001 film adaptation of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s best-selling memoir. I didn’t really have any expectations of the movie, as I’ve never read Wurtzel’s book and really didn’t know much about the story, but it starred Christina Ricci, so how bad could it really be?
Um, pretty bad.
I realize this story is based on Wurtzel’s real life, so I hope the author forgives me for saying so, but her character as represented on film is so unsympathetic, I didn’t really care if she lived or died. And I’m not sure who to blame for that: the screenwriters? The director? Or Ricci, who seems to have made a career in adulthood of playing emotionally disturbed young women?
Nearly everyone’s acting in this flick was off-kilter — either wooden or over-the-top. Nothing seemed natural. The transitions between scenes were forced; the interactions between characters felt dry and disconnected. Even two-time Academy Award-winner Jessica Lange gave a performance that should revoke at least one of those Oscars.
Given the amount of quality on-screen talent in this mess, though, I’m going to have to lay the blame at the feet of Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjærg, who not surprisingly, has never made another U.S. wide-release film since. Maybe he was trying to convey the protagonist’s own disjointed consciousness through the trick cinematography and stilted performances. But if so … sorry, it didn’t work.
On the other hand, we watched Definitely, Maybe, a Ryan Reynolds chick-flick vehicle from earlier this year. I expected it to be fluffy, predictable and boring, but it was actually engrossing and touching. I mean, sure, the Adam Brooks-directed film totally and obviously plays with your heartstrings, but it has something that a film such as Prozac Nation lacks: characters about which you give a damn, and actors acting, well, naturally. It was well-paced, cleverly framed and features Nirvana in the soundtrack, so really, you could find far worse ways to spend a few hours on a lazy afternoon than watching Definitely, Maybe.