Saturday, 14 May 2011


It was then I came across a film gem which I had previously missed. Shrink with Kevin Spacey in the title role as Dr Henry Carter, a celebrity himself because his work with Hollywood: actors, Directors and Studio bosses. He is at the edge of a precipice because his wife had committed suicide which he had no inkling was going to happen. When the film opens his confidant is the man (Jesus played Jesse Plemons) who provides a continuous supply of marijuana in various strengths and flavours. At one point both try the latest available to the market and nearly die as this produced is laced with some poison.

Dr Carter has a young friend where his wife was the god mother and he is one of several family and friends who confronts Carter about his increasingly self destructive ands unpredictable behaviour suggesting he should enter a therapy clinic. This Carter rejects.

As is the custom for all analytical psychiatrists he already has a counsellor with whom he shares his concerns as well as his father, also a psychiatrist Robert Carter. I cannot remember if it is the father or the counsellor who suggests that Kevin should take on a pro bono patient, a black high school girl whose mother has committed suicide who has started to cut classes and to self harm, smashing a fist into a mirror because should could not look at herself. She resists all of Kevin’s efforts to communicate with her until he goes to pieces on TV, mentioning the suicide of his wife and tells people not buy or trust his self help book.

There is an interaction between the girl Jemma (Keke Palmer) and the Godson Jeremy, a script writer, who encounters one of Carter’s other patients, Patrick, who I still believe is a commissioner of films, if not a studio boss, and not just a talent scout as suggested by Wikipedia. He has the big office, a personal assistant and others in studio team treat his statements as magisterial rulings. The personal assistant is another important and connecting character.

Jeremy takes at his word Patrick’s suggestion of sending his script into the office. Jeremy decides to hand the manuscript personally and gives it to the personal assistant who reads and tells him that the studio is already making a film with a similar theme although his script is much better. She invites Jeremy to a party and although heavily pregnant the two appear to beginning a relationship.

Jeremy also learns about the pro bono patient and manages to see the personal file and then a record shop where follows the girl who again skips school and goes to the pictures and then into a record shop where he makes contact and establishes a relationship. He then rite a new film script about the girl which he gives to personal assistant who presses the film mogul to read. It appears that he has not done so and drops the documents in the street just as he is entering the office of Dr Carter as Jemma leaves, picks it up and reads and is horrified at the betrayal of Dr Carter and Jeremy.

However Patrick has read the script and is impressed and convenes a meeting with Jemma and with Dr Carter and Jeremy without telling the latter why until assembled in his office. However these bare facts only begin to tell the tale. Jemma has always found escape from the realities of life by going to the cinema and fixing cinema tickets to her ceiling, she always wanted to be involved in films. In one of the last scenes she is seen in the hills by the Hollywood sign throwing the cinema tickets to the wind accompanied by Jeremy.

Patrick is a high powered neurotic character with a high anxiety about everything from germs to Armageddon who relies on his personal assistant. She is a surrogate mother for her sister and also wants to be a film producer. Patrick fires her saying that after the bird he will employ her as a producer.

Two films stars are also patients with aging actress struggling to keep her career and her relationship. The final scene, I think, is where Dr Carter calls her home after she the partner has left home to say that he has given up the drugs and will not see her again, as a patient!

There is one other character in the film, Robin Williams who plays a famous Hollywood director with a history of tabloid involvements who has become faithful to his wife but has also become an alcoholic which he is unable to admit. He seeks permission from the psychiatrist to be unfaithful again as he believes he has become as sex addict. However when gets the opportunity as a young starlet offers herself to him, he declines commenting that she is only a few years older than his daughter. The film has great wit and is full of one line valid insights into the world of physician heal thyself.

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