Girl, Interrupted


Directed by: James Mangold
Written by:James Mangold
Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg, Clea DuVall, Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambour, Vanessa Redgrave, Mary Kay Place
Released: January 20, 2000
Grade: A-

Based on the autobiographical novel by Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted is a touching film you are sure you take something away from.

Our story begins in 1967 in New England.  Susanna (Ryder) has always been an outcast at school and is the only one of her classmates not to be going on to college upon completion of her final year.  Her life is complicated, she’s suicidal and one day acts on her instincts and mixes a bottle of aspirin with a bottle of vodka – not a recommended mix.

Surviving, her parents send her to Claymoore, a psychiatric hospital where she is checked in under the guidance of Nurse Val (Goldberg) and only plans to stay a short while so she can rest and regroup.

Inside she develops much needed friendships with fellow inmates but develops a bond with the outspoken sociopath, Lisa (Jolie).  When diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder by the hospital psychiatrist, Dr Potts (Tambour), Susanna doesn’t buy it and remains locked within the walls struggling with her demons.

Girl, Interrupted starts and finishes strongly but some of the weaker subplots bring the story down during development.  Susanna’s final speech sums up the film and identifies the lessons you take away from it.  Director James Mangold produces some nice work but seems a little too focused on close-ups of the two leading stars that was too obvious and annoying.

The standouts of the movie are the two performances of Ryder and Jolie.  Both characters are such a contrast and work so well together - I find it unfortunate that many believe Jolie has overshadowed Ryder because she played the bolder character.  In all honesty, both are as good as each other.

Don’t be deterred by the awful trailer advertising this film (it makes the film appear disgracefully boring).  In the tradition of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, it captures the style and era of the 60s beautifully and creates a setting and a story that will take you away.