Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted

Based on Susanna Kaysen's acclaimed journal-memoir, Girl, Interrupted bears inevitable resemblance to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and pale comparison to that earlier classic is impossible to avoid. The mental institution settings of both films guarantee a certain degree of déjà vu and at least one Oscar winner (in this case, Angelina Jolie), since playing a loony is any actor's dream gig. Unfortunately, director James Mangold seems to have misplaced the depth and delicacy of his underrated debut, Heavy, despite a great deal of earnest effort by everyone involved. It's easy to see why Winona Ryder chose to star in (and executive-produce) this nearly worthy adaptation of Kaysen's book, since it's a strong vehicle for female casting and potent drama. Mangold certainly got the former; whether he succeeded with the latter is not so clear. To be sure, Ryder conveys the confusion and chaos that signified Kaysen's life during nearly 18 months of voluntary institutionalization beginning in 1967. But the film seems too eager to embrace the cliché that the "crazies" of the Claymoore women's ward are saner than the war-torn world outside, and lack of narrative focus gives way to semipredictable character study. Susanna (Ryder) is labeled with "borderline personality disorder," a diagnosis as ambiguous as her own emotions, and while Jolie chews the scenery as the resident bad-girl sociopath, Ryder effectively conveys an odyssey from vulnerable fear to self-awareness and, finally, to healing. The ensemble cast is uniformly superb, making this drama well worthwhile, even as it treads familiar territory. If it ultimately lacks dramatic impact, Girl, Interrupted makes it painfully clear that the boundaries of dysfunction are hazy in a world where everyone's crazy once in a while. --Jeff Shannon

Genre: Biography, Drama
Production: Sony Pictures
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.4
Metacritic:
51
Rotten Tomatoes:
54%
R
Year:
1999
127
Website
10,160 Views

Valerie Owens:
[about Daisy] What would you have said to her?

Susanna Kaysen:
I don't know. That I was sorry. That I will never know what it was like to be her. But I know what it's like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can't. You hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.

Valerie Owens:
Susanna, it's all and well and good to tell me all this; but you gotta tell some of this to your doctors.

Susanna Kaysen:
How the hell am I suppose to recover when I don't even understand my disease?

Valerie Owens:
But you do understand it. You spoke very clearly about it a second ago. But I think what you gotta do is put it down. Put it away. Put it in your notebook, but get it out of yourself. Away so you can't curl up with it anymore.

Susanna Kaysen:
Lisa thinks it's a gift. That it let's you see the truth.

Valerie Owens:
Lisa's been here for eight years.

Susanna Kaysen:
[crying] I'm so sorry. I was a bitch, I was a bitch.

Valerie Owens:
Do not drop anchor here, you understand?

Susanna Kaysen:
[narrating] When you don't want to feel, death seem like a dream. But seeing death, really seeing it, makes dreaming about it fucking ridiculous. Maybe, there's a moment growing up when something peels back... Maybe, maybe, we look for secrets because we can't believe our minds... [overlapping words] All I know is that there's I began to feel things again. Whatever I was, I knew that there was only one way back to the world, and that was to use the place to talk. So I saw the great and wonderful Dr. Wick three times a week, and let her hear every thought in my head.

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