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Stutz: A Unique Approach to Therapy

Breaking norms and traditional thoughts on psychotherapy, Jonah Hill introduces his therapist, Phil Stutz, to Netflix viewers in a poignant and insightful documentary. Hill’s raw approach to addressing wellness and deconstructing the idyllic image of Hollywood lifestyles sets this piece apart from other documentaries investigating the private lives of the biggest stars.


In a typical therapy setting, Stutz and Hill sit facing each other at what appears to be the beginning of a session. The vast majority of the film is shown in black and white, taking emphasis away from visual factors in order to make the content of their discussion the focal point. Although Hill is the patient, he immediately flips the script, making it clear this film is about Stutz and his unique approach to therapy.


The engaging banter between Hill and Stutz extends a palatable invitation to viewers to delve into both men’s profound journeys. Over the course of an hour and a half, the film expands far beyond its original intent—grappling with Stutz’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, personal losses, the lasting effects of childhood traumas, and even the process of making the film itself. Although Hill is initially hesitant to share his own personal traumas, he later acknowledges that his own vulnerability is necessary to accomplish the broader goals of the documentary.

Credit: Netflix

Stutz has adopted a proactive approach to therapy, arguing that just listening to patients isn't enough. Using personal anecdotes, Stutz provides remedial tools to cope with the emotional baggage associated with Hill’s traumas. Stutz shares his tools through swift drawings, which outline and visualize the different ways people approach problems to help them understand how to find solutions.


Throughout the film, there are many instances where the frame focuses only on the shaking of Stutz’s hand. Although he may not be discussing the specific impacts of his Parkinson’s diagnosis constantly, it remains a perpetual theme throughout the film.


The documentary effectively captures the love shared between Stutz and Hill. Although Stutz may only be Hill’s therapist, it is clear their relationship represents much more to both men.


Stutz is both a timely and soon-to-be classic piece. While Hill’s vulnerability positively contributes to contemporary conversations surrounding men’s mental health, the piece’s study of the human experience makes it accessible and timeless.

 

Emma Djoganopoulos is a sophomore in the College studying Economics

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