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PROZAC NATION *

CAST: Christina Ricci, Jessica Lange, Jason Biggs, Michelle Williams, Anne Heche, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Frida Betrani, Nicholas Campbell, Cinty Lentol, Todd Poudrier, Klodyne Rodney

DIRECTOR: Erik Skjoldbjaerg

Everything seemed to be going right for Elizabeth Wurtzel, as she recalled in the autobiographical "Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America." In truth, as this relentlessly depressintg adaptation of her book makes clear, very little was going right for Wurtzel (Christina Ricci), a brainy teen-ager who got published in Rolling Stone and had no trouble getting admitted to Harvard back in the eighties. She was an unprincipled wreck who drank, doped, engaged in degrading sex, told lies about her father, belittled her mother, betrayed her friends, stalked a male student, turned classmates off with her petulant behavior, and even gave suicide a shot.

Your heart should go out to anyone as screwed up as Wurtzel seems to have been, but you probably won’t be reaching for a hanky as Ricci schemes, screams and pill-pops herself into a self-loathing frenzy. More likely, you’ll be searching for a sharp object to hurl at the screen. This enormously talented actress knows precisely how to get under our skin and make us squirm, but she owes it to herself to at least occasionally play a healthy, fun-loving woman. Even Jessica Lange, who has played neurotic bitches in her time and who suffers great pain here as Wurtzel’s exploited mother, reveled in the opportunity to become the warm and sexy Patsy Cline in "Sweet Dreams."

Wurtzel/Ricci starts off as a smart-ass phony, and ends up pretty much the same, despite the ministrations of a lamebrained shrink acted by Anne Heche. My question, doctor, is why should anybody care?