We know Kevin Spacey is one depressed psychiatrist because he doesn’t shave and he chain-smokes pot. (What Elliott Gould did for cigarettes in The Long Goodbye, Spacey does for joints in Shrink.) Broadly about therapy, Jonas Pate’s film is also about the dark side of Hollywood, which he signifies by shooting the famed sign from behind—the other view of the high life! But, really, it’s one of those multiple-connections movies: If I’d never been to L.A., I’d be convinced by now that all people do there is wander around, only bumping into each other by coincidence. As it is, Spacey’s Henry Carter self-medicates to get over the pain of his wife’s suicide, while his various patients—actress Kate (Saffron Burrows), agent Patrick (Dallas Roberts, excellent), and aging alcoholic actor Jack (an uncredited Robin Williams)—intersect and inch along to epiphany. Pate’s eye isn’t bad, but Thomas Moffett’s screenplay is self-serious piffle. The Hollywood meetings and negotiations are legitimately hilarious, but that target’s easy enough. Finally, amid all the sadness, the movie does Magnolia, Crash, et al. one better. Inner peace doesn’t come from the hard work of therapy—just get that screenplay deal signed! Hollywood movies don’t get much more self-regarding than this.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 22, 2009