The United States of Depression by Aubrey Nielsen

Vanity by Nic Contreras


The United States of Depression by Aubrey Nielsen

 We are, we are the youth of depression. In the United States, more than 300 million
prescriptions are filled for Prozac and other anti-depressants every year. At what point do we
ask for help? Do we go on living as we are with the world crumbling around us? Or do we need
the drugs to make us feel like normal functioning humans? Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s Film, “Prozac
Nation,” stars Christina Ricci, Michelle Williams, Jason Biggs, Anne Heche and Jessica Lange. The
movie is based off the bestselling book of the same name written by Elizabeth Wurtzel. The
movie tells the real life story of Elizabeth Wurtzel.

Growing up with her parents divorced, her mother a neurotic mess and her father
absent most of life. The movie chronicles Wurtzel’s battle with depression and substance abuse
while attending Harvard University on a journalism scholarship. Wurtzel, alienating all the
relationships around her, spiraling out of control. She begins to see a therapist, Dr. Sterling,
who prescribes her Prozac. Slowly, Elizabeth starts to take control of her life. Fighting her inner
demons every step of the way.

 This film captures Wurtzel’s pain in the scene of Elizabeth (Lizzie’s) birthday, her
estranged father calls to wish her a happy birthday the day after her actual birthday. Her
mother walks in the room and overhears the conversation. Immediately, demanding to know
who Lizzie is talking to and when Lizzie doesn’t give her a straight answer, her mother begins to
start attacking the relationship Lizzie has with her father. It is then, that you get a sense of what
Lizzie had to grow up with. The constant battle of being in the middle of her parents and the
negative aftermath it has caused her. She is punished for her parent’s incapability. The rejection
she gets from both of her parents and how she acts out because of it.

This movie has an up front and frank approach about the subject of depression. It gives
you the reality of what Lizzie is going through; the ugly truth of her disease. Christina Ricci’s
performance was dead on. You see this narcissistic mean girl hitting bottom and you still feel
for her to pull through and change her life around. Christina’s character narrating moments of
what she is feeling or talking about regretting what just came out of her mouth allows the
viewer to feel sympathy for this troubled girl.

 The director, Erik Skjoldbjaerg did an amazing job with this film. The close up angles in
more emotional scenes allows you to connect with the characters on a personal level. The dark
gloom of the lighting of the rooms creates the environment that the character has lost herself in. The movie does have some graphic scenes. The harshness of these scenes allow you to feel
the pain that her character was in at that time. On several occasions, the viewer sees Lizzie
committing self-harm to by using a razor blade. The first occasion, she is shown as a young
teen, narrating her private pain the acting out as she feels. The second occasion, she is an adult
in college coming to the conclusion her life will be as it always is. Both examples, the camera
has close up shots going back and forth between her face and the act itself. The close up shots
when Lizzie is at her most vulnerable allows the viewer to connect and understand Lizzie’s pain.
 This film is a reality to the growing depression problem in America. 121 million people in
the United States struggle with depression. This film shows that depression isn’t always an easy
fix. Medication may not help completely but possibly can worsen the problem. Christina Ricci’s
character comes to accept that she will be “okay” by taking her medication to control her mood
swings. The final scenes of the movie, you see the character question who she is and who the
medication makes her become and act out once again because of self-doubt. This movie is a
harsh reality to an imperfect world. The point of no return and realizing medication isn’t a cure
all. Be ready to view the good, bad and the ugly of a young woman struggling to accept herself.