Story told a million times. “We all have bad days” says the mother to her depressed child who goes to Harvard and looks like a promising reporter on the rise. The movie left me with mixed feelings, since it focuses on too many things at once and by doing that, it looses the primary target. It focuses on mother-daughter relationship, it focuses on boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, it focuses on soul-mates relationship, it focuses on doctor-patient relationship and it focuses on the main character who jumps from one to another like a jack-in-a-box.
Passing a judgement on how well a depressed person is depicted is always wrong. Wrong because each individual battles it differently and like the main character answered when asked how did she get depressed “Gradually…then suddenly“. There is no general formula, no one-way road that leads to feeling down.
The problem I had with the movie is that the main character was not believable. No, I am not talking about “She had it all, why would she go and be depressed?” but because eventhough she is depressed and lacks self-esteem, she still manages to do all sorts of things like dating a guy, going to classes, write stuff for the school newspaper and such. The pose of a heroine also bothers me, as if this depressed state was something she inherited and now she has to carry the cross and suffer underneath it.
Another problem I had with it is that is full of stereotypes. Quick, what`s the first thing you think about when someone says “depression”?
b) comatose state
c) some teen-style vein slashing
d) all of the above
Well, this movie has it all. It`s like the main character read a manual “Your guide to be a sucessful depressed person” and is now following it to a T. From the heights of receiving a reward for writing the best article on the campus, to doing drugs and adopting a “male” attitude about having sex with lots of people (another stereotype), to lying in bed for days, ignoring everybody and finally coming out of it all, doing a quotable line and then living like nothing happened.
Another thing that bothered me is that nobody helped her in any way. Nobody did anything for her and yet they all tried. You can see the mother, a character brilliantly played by Jessica Lange who goes from trying to help her daughter with anything she can to losing her nerves completely, screaming her head off. You can see the psychiatrist, staring blankly at the main character (Anne Heche is not an actress). You see her jewish boyfriend peddling drugs and then having a weird relationship with his demented sister (don`t ask). But there is not a single character in the whole story that helps her. That makes the difference. And in the end, she is almost happy to go on the pill, to get into the drug store and get her dose of prozac. Like the whole story, the whole goal was for her to get depressed so that she can finally eat some pills.
I am not putting depression down. I am not saying that depressed people should be left alone until they make up their own mind about it and start living again. I am not passing a general judgement. But nevertheless, “Prozac nation” is a stereotype story about a stereotype character who battles with a stereotype disease. If you want to see a believable story about a guy falling into a pit and then coming out of it, you should see “American beauty”. As for “Prozac nation”…leave it on the shelf.