Jonah Hill’s new documentary Stutz, out on Netflix November 14, is a beautiful, up-close look at the power of talk therapy at its best. The film focuses on the 38-year-old actor’s relationship with his therapist, Phil Stutz, MD, and features snippets of their sessions over the years.
Hill’s sessions cover everything from self-worth to grief to depression, and Dr. Stutz meets all of their conversations with practical, grounding advice (that happens to be relevant for almost anyone, not just celebrities).
At the beginning, Hill explains that previous therapists weren’t as helpful as Dr. Stutz, who he’s been working with for about five years. “So, before meeting you, my experience with therapy was very traditional in the sense that I would be talking, and the person would say, ‘How does that feel?’ or, ‘Interesting,’—basically keeping me at a massive distance,” he said. “And I was thinking about how in traditional therapy, you’re paying this person, and you save all your problems for them. And they just listen. And your friends, who are idiots, give you advice, unsolicited. And you want your friends just to listen, and you want your therapist to give you advice.”
Dr. Stutz adds that he too always felt there was “something missing” from the exact therapy model Hill found frustrating. That’s why he developed his own practices, which are grounded in visualization techniques that add a meditative element to his sessions.
These practices are explored throughout the 1.5-hour film, and woven throughout them are intimate shots of both Dr. Stutz and Hill talking about some of the hardest times of their own lives.
Hill, for instance, talks about his relationship with his body, and how the trauma of repeated fatphobic remarks took a toll on his mental health. “Meeting you and starting our process was out of desperation to get happier,” Hill said to Dr. Stutz. “I just had no healthy self-esteem. Having grown up overweight was something that sounds like not a big deal…but for me personally, it intensely fucked me up.” He adds that people often commented on his weight, which led to deep feelings of hurt and shame. “I thought if I got successful, they wouldn’t see [my weight]. And then I did, and all people did was just say more of that. And it hurt…and that still resides in me in a way that comes up.”
The pair also talk at length about grief in the film, as both Dr. Stutz and Hill lost their respective brothers at a young age. “The only time I’ve had a massive experience with death, you were the person who got me through that,” Hill said to Dr. Stutz. He explains that he came to Dr. Stutz the day his brother died of a blood clot in 2017. “I went to your office that morning, and it was definitely the most intense day of my life, the most shook up I’ve ever been,” Hill said.
Toward the end of the film, Hill explained that Dr. Stutz’s advice, coupled with his admiration for him, is why he wanted to make the documentary in the first place: “I’m making this movie because I want to give therapy and the tools I’ve learned in therapy to as many people as possible through film,” Hill said. He added that without Dr. Stutz’s help, his mental health wouldn’t be in the good place it’s in now: “I made this movie because I love Phil, because I love the life these tools allowed for me to have.”