An IMDB search for "therapy" as a plot device in movies will turn up hundreds of titles -- the Woody Allen catalog alone would take weeks to wade through. For some reason, psychological counseling is a well that screenwriters never tire of dipping into, with wildly mixed results. This week's addition to the oeuvre is the Jon Favreau penned Couples Retreat, in which he, Vince Vaughn and their wives take part in a week's vacation that involves time on the couch ... because nothing's funnier than watching bitter, middle-aged people kvetch about how much sex they're not having anymore.

The arguable quality of Couple's Retreat aside, therapy is, when done well, a potentially fascinating hook on which to hang a plot. From asylum-based films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Girl, Interrupted to stories about the unhinged like What About Bob? and Don Juan DeMarco, there's a daunting list of movies that take on the releationship between patient and shrink. The following are merely a drop in that vast bucket.

Agnes of God (1985)
Jane Fonda is the court-appointed psychiatrist sent to a convent to investigate the case of a young novitiate (Meg Tilly, seen above) who appears to have murdered a newborn baby. Based on the successful stage play, Agnes of God is either, depending on who you ask, a provocative look at the battle between faith and reason, or a turgid melodrama that coasts on its sensational premise. Either way, the performances -- which include Anne Bancroft as the Mother Superior, who believes Agnes to be "touched by God" -- are powerful.
categories Cinematical