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Stars: Kevin Spacey, Saffron Burrows, Mark Webber, Dallas Roberts, Robin Williams, Keke Palmer, Robert Loggia, Pell James, Jack Huston

Director: Jonas Pate

Despite incessant swearing, often gloomy photography, sluggishness of pace and a miserabilist plot, this piece in 'physician heal thyself' mould isn't at all bad. A suitably bag-eyed Spacey plays Hollywood therapist Henry Carter, who has sunk into a haze of drugs and apathy since his wife committed suicide. His radio talk-ins have become increasingly rambling and he no longer feels able to help the patients he still treats.

Equally directionless and alienated are a hyper super-agent (Roberts), a young writer (Webber), who is also the shrink's late wife's godson, a movie star (an unbilled Williams) who wants to be treated for sex addiction when he's really an alcoholic, and an angry 15-year-old girl (Palmer, from Akeelah and the Bee), at a loss to explain her own mother's suicide.

Carter is reluctantly saddled with the latter, who is initially uncooperative, but gradually forges a bond with the shrink (and the writer) through a shared love of movies.

Meanwhile Carter, face drooping like a bloodhound, seems to be heading for his own meltdown, but the upbeat ending, though perhaps unjustifiably optimistic, does lend a balance to the film that it sorely needs. The rest of it is surprisingly well knit together in spite of its several seemingly disparate plotlines.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by FotoKem.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 30 May 2010