Shrink is an exploration of loss. Henry Carter (Kevin Spacey) is a celebrity psychiatrist with an A-list clientele. Henry attempts to juggle his career with his ongoing personal battles and he begins to breakdown. The loss of his wife to suicide sends him into a downward spiral of alcohol and substance abuse. It is not until he agrees to his first pro bono case with a young girl (Keke Palmer) that Henry attempts to rebuild his life.
Kevin Spacey is a brilliant actor. His performances are usually always strong and he chooses roles that challenge his acting ability. However, with this film, he seems to have chosen poorly. There are good moments in his performance that do showcase his range. For example, his monologue at the intervention is very strong. Unfortunately, even Spacey cannot carry the entire workload for this film. The supporting cast is weak. Dallas Roberts is not believable as the Entourage inspired super agent and Mark Webber is flat as the struggling writer. However, Keke Palmer shines as the conflicted teenager. Her performance is understated and audiences will admire her strength.
I was surprised by the direction of the film. The shot selection and use of color is quite good. The overcast background in almost all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes speaks volumes to his emotional state. This idea seems tacky and overused. However, the final product is visually appealing. The dialogue struggles slightly throughout. Some of Dallas Roberts’ dialogue will make the audience grit their teeth in anger, not from his performance, but rather from the sheer incompetence of the screenwriter. The audience has difficulty identifying with their language in scenes, which makes it a complicated viewing experience.
My overall reaction to the film is mixed. There are moments that are good and some cinematic elements are strong. However, for every good scene, there are several poor ones. Unfortunately, the poor performances by the supporting cast and muddled screenwriting are what resonate the most with audiences and for this reviewer the film did not meet my expectation.
Shrink is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film looks great. The transfer has left no grain whatsoever and the final product is quite clean. There are some memorable shots throughout the film. One of them being a creative representation of Henry Carter’s conflicted personality. As Henry awakens from his stupor, the camera pulls away and shows his reflection in the pool as he walks out of frame. This shot provides great insight into the character with no use of dialogue whatsoever. Darkness overwhelms the frame and viewers can struggle to see what is happening in the scene. However, the overall visual experience is a good one.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound is average. The score is not very immersive at all. It would have been nice to have some creativity in the sound department. Unfortunately, no such luck. The music seems to be spotty throughout the film. The score pops in at random times in the film. This creates a very distracting experience for the audience. On a positive note, the dialogue is crisp and clear.
Feature Commentary Track: The commentary track that is available features producer Braxton Pope and director Jonas Pate. There is some good chemistry between the two friends and they provide insight into several of the crucial scenes. Audiences can hear the enjoyment that Pate has from watching his vision. The commentary track is somewhat of an educational experience.
Interview with Director Jonas Pate and Producer Braxton Pope (34:55): An extremely in depth interview with both the producer and director. Both men are enthusiastic about the film and discuss in detail, the steps it requires to finance and create a film. There is some interesting information in the interview. Unfortunately, it is just too long.
Deleted scenes: There are six deleted scenes that appear on the disc. There are two scenes in particular that allow for some more character development. However, the bulk of the scenes are too long and meaningless for plot movement. These are very standard deleted scenes, nothing too special.
Jackson Browne music video “Hero”: The music video is for an artist whose music I am not particularly fond of. However, it seems to incorporate some scenes from the film.
Theatrical Trailer and Trailers from Lion’s Gate Entertainment
Unfortunately, an average Kevin Spacey performance and a brief Robin Williams cameo could not make this a memorable effort. Audiences do not feel integrated enough into the story for it to be substantial. However, the director has some potential and hopefully he will improve in later films.