review for Prozac Nation on AllMovie

Prozac Nation (2001)
by Derek Armstrong review

Nearly four years passed between Prozac Nation's debut at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival and the next time it surfaced in North America, as a March 2005 premiere on the Starz! cable network. During that time, no one knew what to do with it, and it took the departures of Bob and Harvey Weinstein from Miramax to spur it into release alongside the company's other pending projects. As it turned out, translating Elizabeth Wurtzel's caustic voice from the page to the screen was indeed quite difficult, especially for producer Christina Ricci, who's too close to the material to bring nuance to the central role. Alternating between catatonic and screechy, Ricci seems too focused on Wurtzel's most showy histrionics, turning her into more of a stalker than the charismatic figure initially popular among her Harvard classmates. Ricci's intrusive vocalizing of Wurtzel's thoughts can't approximate the internalized ruminations of a book; it only serves as a ponderous constant loosely connecting numerous tantrums and visits to her shrink. In a second central performance that's all too familiar, Jessica Lange over-emotes like a modern-day Scarlett O'Hara, and doesn't look a darn thing like Ricci to boot. The only actor with any real humanity is Michelle Williams as Lizzie's weary college roommate. Erik Skjoldbjærg shoots the film artlessly, with a few perfunctory gestures toward technique. Once the film's title makes its clunky way into the dialogue near the end, it becomes soberly clear that Prozac Nation has not been a thought-provoking commentary on a generation of depressives, but a boring character study of an unlikable drama queen.