You know those scenes in The Sopranos where Tony Soprano has tense, revealing encounters with his psychiatrist, Dr Jennifer Melfi? She, slight and diminutive, is confronted with this brooding psychopathic mobster. She remains utterly unfazed; he grows suddenly unsure and vulnerable. Electric. Do you recall also how those innovative scenes add texture and richness to the story and the characters?
Well, they tried a bit of that sort of thing in Wanderlust, and, to draw on many years of studying Jungian analysis, I was bored fartless. It was the strangest of interludes, to put it politely, in this strangest of drama series.
So, Joy (Toni Collette), embarked on an increasingly chaotic “open marriage” and a therapist herself for a living, is interviewed for an hour by her own therapist, Angela (Sophie Okonedo). She takes Joy through every emotional trauma and sexual experience, seemingly, that she has ever had – fumblings, shags, orgasms, dead pets, funerals, and the suicide of a client. The conversations are studded with flashbacks, which are tough viewing, but in a bad way – awkward to watch and unrewarding.
There are two problems. First, the scenes of sexual awakening and burgeoning deep love between the adolescent Joy and the man destined to become her husband, Alan, are spoiled by the young Alan’s striking resemblance to Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is, admittedly, a bit of a fertility god himself, but still, it was just too jarring.
The wider issue is that Angela’s “analysis” is blunt, and makes Joy cry, obviously, but is devoid of meaning, as such exercises tend to be. “Stop trying to place yourself at the centre of your own misfortune,” Joy is told, though where else you can relocate, I don’t know. “Feeling is good”. Yes, and unavoidable for any sentient being in a conscious state I might add.
Wanderlust reaches its own juddering, shuddering climax next week, and, I must say, I can’t wait.
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