Even when things ultimately work out, movies about movies always seem bitter. And even though it’s unfair, that bitterness is always going to seem unearned. And it’s a no win situation. Because we’re watching your movie. So you were successful. So you can’t have the bitterness lead to failure or it won’t feel true. But you also can’t have it lead to success or we’re just going to think you’re gloating. Or worse, think you knew it was going to work out the whole time.
Unfortunately, Shrink isn’t only about a struggling screenwriter. It’s moreso about a psychologist with whom he has some distant and convoluted relationship. And some other people who you wouldn’t believe are all interconnected but they totally are in totally surprising and innovative ways. Like sharing a drug dealer. Oh, I’ve given too much away.
Director Jonas Pate, who has directed a bunch of episodes of Friday Night Lights and co-created one of the most fantastically acted science fiction series there’s ever been in Surface, abandons his twin brother for this project and leaves me no choice but to assume they’ve been splitting their duties this whole time. Because while Shrink looks and sounds like an episode of Friday Night Lights, it doesn’t feel like anything. Just generic reconstructions of things we’ve seen a thousand times before. One of the most important plot points is a character finding a script based on her life laying on the sidewalk. Yes, it’s passingly motivated by it being dropped by someone else she doesn’t know, but really it’s the byproduct of this forcibly constructed web the movie clearly thinks is going to get a gasp out of you every time the link between two characters is revealed.
And in the end, the lesson seems to be if you write a really good script in two days, all the awful stuff you may have done to people in order to find the inspiration to do so will be forgiven. So maybe this movie-about-a-movie success is more wish fulfillment on the author’s part than usual.