Shrink is a movie that’s hard to categorize and label. It’s not exactly your standard-issue dramedy but more of a nihilistic drama featuring a lot of black humor. The nihilistic aspect is the one that intrigued me the most. I mean, the movie opens with a scene where we see a broken down man, just going through the motions of life. He’s constantly self-medicating, smoking huge amounts of marijuana, bothered by the very thought of existence. And the dreaded next task before him. We’ve all had those days, months, or even years. Everything feels very honest without any sugarcoating.
We will be following Henry Carter, a psychiatrist for the wealthy. His clients are mostly movie stars dealing with various issues. We’ve got a bit of substance abuse, all kinds of phobias, and other fun activities. Meanwhile, he’s even worse than they are, drinking and smoking his days into oblivion. Each of these characters is very interesting and keeps the movie going. You know that in a couple of scenes, an even crazier person will appear while Carter’s condition keeps escalating.
Remove the money and what you get is your ordinary group of people with a very ordinary set of problems generated by the society we live in and its system of values. And don’t worry, I’m not going into another rant about tribalism, capitalism, and all the other isms. Kevin Spacey was born to play this character. You take one look at him and you know what’s up. I think that the only other person who would be better in this role would be Alan Rickman. Although he lacks that certain smugness Spacey has.
Meet Henry Carter, a wealthy psychiatrist who’s barely functioning now after a personal tragedy. He’s still going through the motions, lubricated by weed and alcohol. His clients have all the money in the world but they’re still unhappy. But at least they’re trying to get better. And Henry is trying to help them do that. However, that will prove to be a much more difficult task than he initially thought.
You probably heard the saying that money doesn’t buy happiness. Well, I’ve always hated it as money can buy you a chance for happiness. You don’t have to worry about bills and other issues and you can afford a top psychiatrist to help you get through things. Not only that but you actually have the time and the fortitude to do that. You don’t have to ask your boss for a month of recovery. I mean, you can but you’ll probably get fired. So, yes, Shrink may be considered as another one of those The Rich Also Cry (telenovela) movies.
However, since it approaches this subject with honesty, nihilism, and sarcasm, it gets a pass. After all, this is Los Angeles and everybody is dysfunctional to a certain degree. I especially loved Carter’s snide and sardonic comments about his clients. And I also could identify with him as I too use alcohol and marijuana to cope with the fuckedupness of life. The pacing was also brilliant giving you just enough time both to reflect and get excited for what’s about to come.
Apart from Spacey we also have Robin Williams who might as well be telling his personal life story to the “shrink”. He struggled with cocaine addiction, alcoholism, and depression for many decades. Same as many other actors and directors. So, the movie Shrink actually mirrors real life and opens a conversation about issues we need to talk about. Plus, it’s a lot of fun, especially if you like black humor.
Director: Jonas Pate
Writers: Thomas Moffett, Henry Reardon
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Mark Webber, Keke Palmer, Saffron Burrows, Jack Huston, Robin Williams
Fun Facts: Jesse Plemons plays the drug dealer Jesus who operates from a car wash, a role he will reprise in the Breaking Bad television show a couple of years later.