In Hollywood, neurosis takes a starring role

A pity-party of Hollywood narcissism, Shrink stars Kevin Spacey as a Los Angeles psychiatrist with celebrity clients, best-selling self-help books, and bags of woe beneath his eyes.

Henry Carter is still counseling his testy talent agents and aging A-list actresses, but really, the guy's a basket case: chain-smoking (pot and tobacco), falling-asleep drunk, wallowing in a depressive stupor.

Spacey's character is a wet, walking mop of grief, and while screenwriter Thomas Moffett and director Jonas Pate take their time offering the explanation, it's clear that Dr. Carter has no business being in business. Self-absorbed and self-medicated, he's the one in need of help.

Well, just about everyone in Shrink needs help: There's Jemma (Keke Palmer) a high school truant and movie buff understandably stricken over her mother's suicide (she has seen Ordinary People, so she knows about unhappy teenagers and their therapists). There's Patrick (Dallas Roberts), an insufferably arrogant agent whose neuroses run deep beneath his cell-phone-barking exterior. There's Jeremy (Mark Webber), a would-be screenwriter grappling with low self-esteem and writer's block. There's Shamus (Jack Huston), an Irish pretty boy in a revolving-door relationship with the rehab clinic. And there's Kate Amberson (Saffron Burrows), a movie star with marital problems and a birth date that's marked her for professional extinction.

Deploying a succession of narrative coincidences that not only strains credulity but actually breaks credulity into shards of far-fetchedness, Shrink brings Jemma and Jeremy, Patrick and Shamus, Kate and Henry together in a wrap-up of hope, redemption, and three-picture deals.

As the good doctor says in a moment of weed-fueled cynicism, "Let the healing begin."


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com.

Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com

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Shrink

Directed by Jonas Pate. With Dallas Roberts, Saffron Burrows, Robert Loggia, Kevin Spacey, Jack Huston, Pell James, Keke Palmer, Laura Ramsey, Gore Vidal, Griffin Dunne. Distributed by Roadside Attractions.

Running time: 1 hours, 50 minutes.

Parent's guide: R (for drug content throughout,and pervasive language including some sexual references).