Girl, Interrupted (film)

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Girl, Interrupted
Girl, Interrupted (1999).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Mangold
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onGirl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen
Music byMychael Danna
CinematographyJack N. Green
Edited byKevin Tent
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 8, 1999 (1999-12-08) (Cinerama Dome)
  • December 21, 1999 (1999-12-21) (limited)
  • January 14, 2000 (2000-01-14) (wide)
Running time
127 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million
Box office$48.3 million[1]

Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 American psychological drama film based on Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir about her stay at a mental institution. Directed by James Mangold, it stars Winona Ryder (who also served as an executive producer) as Kaysen, with a supporting cast including Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Moss, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Girl, Interrupted began a limited release on December 21, 1999, with a wide expansion on January 14, 2000. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, Jolie's performance received critical acclaim and won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.


After 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen has a nervous breakdown and overdoses, she is checked into a psychiatric hospital, Claymoore. Previously, she had an affair with her high school English teacher and a casual relationship with a boy, Tobias. On the ward, she befriends Polly Clark, a childlike schizophrenic; Georgina Tuskin, a pathological liar and Susanna’s roommate; and Daisy Randone, who self-harms and has obsessive–compulsive disorder. She is drawn to sociopath Lisa Rowe, who is rebellious but charismatic and encourages Susanna to stop taking her medication and resist therapy.

Lisa has been at Claymoore for eight years, and knows how to manipulate the system. She helps the girls sneak around at night, as well as constantly provokes them and the staff. One day, Tobias visits Susanna, begging her to run away with him. She tells him she has become friends with the other girls and would like to leave someday, just not with him. One day, Lisa convinces Susanna to escape with her, and they run away to Daisy's home. Daisy has been recently discharged and is living in a house provided by her adoring father. After, Lisa taunts Daisy for enjoying the sexual abuse she suffers from her father, Susanna finds Daisy dead the next morning, having apparently slit her wrists and hanged herself. Susanna is appalled when Lisa searches Daisy's room and body for cash. Realizing she does not want to become like Lisa, she phones for an ambulance and returns to Claymoore.

Susanna works on her painting and writing, and cooperates with her therapy. Before she is released, Lisa is returned to Claymoore. She steals Susanna's diary and reads it for the amusement of the patients, turning them against Susanna. After reading an entry in which Susanna feels sympathy for Lisa being a cold, dark person. Lisa attacks Susanna, who then runs. After Susanna confronts her, Lisa breaks down and attempts to commit suicide, but the patients dissuade her from doing so. Before Susanna is released the next day, she goes to see Lisa. Susanna reflects that she will remember Claymoore forever.


  • Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen, the protagonist. She was eighteen years old when diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
  • Angelina Jolie as Lisa Rowe, diagnosed as a sociopath. She is charismatic, manipulative, rebellious and abusive. She has been in the institution since she was nine, and has escaped several times over her eight years there, but is always caught and brought back eventually. She is looked up to by the other patients and forms a close bond with Susanna.
  • Clea DuVall as Georgina Tuskin, a pathological liar. She is Susanna's seventeen-year-old roommate and her closest friend next to Lisa in the institution. Susanna confides in her about life and Georgina informs Susanna about the other girls there.
  • Brittany Murphy as Daisy Randone, a sexually abused eighteen-year-old-girl who is Susanna’s friend with bulimia and OCD who cuts herself. She keeps the carcasses of the cooked chicken that her father brings her in her room. She commits suicide the morning after being verbally attacked by Lisa.
  • Elisabeth Moss as Polly "Torch" Clark, a burn victim. She is sixteen years old and is very childlike and easily upset. She was admitted to Claymoore after burning herself after her parents told her that she would have to give up her puppy because of her allergies to it, leaving her face horribly scarred.
  • Angela Bettis as Janet Webber, an anorexic. Like Lisa, she is abrasive and seemingly aloof, but is also easily irritated or upset. She is twenty years old.
  • Jillian Armenante as Cynthia Crowley. She claims that she is a sociopath like Lisa, but Lisa denies the claim and states that she is a "dyke". She is easily amused. She is twenty-two.
  • Travis Fine as John, an orderly who is smitten with Susanna. He is later sent to work at the men's ward after he and Susanna kiss and fall asleep together.
  • Kurtwood Smith as Dr. Crumble, a colleague of Susanna's father and retired therapist, who sees Susanna as a patient as a favor to her father, and sends her to Claymoore.
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Dr. Melvin Potts
  • Joanna Kerns as Annette Kaysen, Susanna's mother.
  • Ray Baker as Carl Kaysen, Susanna's father.
  • Jared Leto as Tobias "Toby" Jacobs, Susanna's ex-boyfriend who plans to escape to Canada after being drafted into the military.
  • Vanessa Redgrave as Dr. Sonia Wick.
  • Whoopi Goldberg as Valerie Owens, R.N.
  • Bruce Altman as Professor Gilcrest, a college professor with whom Susanna had an affair.
  • Mary Kay Place as Barbara Gilcrest, Professor Gilcrest's wife.
  • KaDee Strickland as Bonnie Gilcrest, Professor Gilcrest's daughter.
  • Robin Reck as Theresa McCullian.
  • Misha Collins as Tony


In a 2000 Charlie Rose interview, Ryder revealed her strong passion to produce the film, indicating that it took seven years to get to the screen. After reading the book, Ryder immediately tried to secure the rights; however, they had been purchased by Douglas Wick a week earlier. Ryder then decided to team up with Wick along with her manager Carol Bodie, who acted as executive producer along with Ryder. Ryder also stated that she tried hard to persuade James Mangold to direct the film, who was reluctant at first. She states that she knew Mangold was the right director after she saw his directorial debut Heavy, which explored similar themes to Girl, Interrupted.[citation needed]


Filming took place along Main Street in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, as well as in Harrisburg State Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg was chosen for its old-fashioned appearance and its old-style drugstore simply titled "Drugs", all of which gave the film its time-dated appearance. A shot seen in the trailer shows a van traveling towards downtown Harrisburg over the State Street Bridge, where the Capitol building is clearly visible.[2] Scenes later deleted were also filmed at Reading's Public Museum.


Critical response[edit]

Girl, Interrupted received mixed reviews from critics, with Jolie's performance receiving critical acclaim. The film holds a rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes,[3] and 51 on Metacritic.[4]

Stephen Holden in The New York Times wrote: "Girl, Interrupted is a small, intense period piece with a hardheaded tough-love attitude toward lazy, self-indulgent little girls flirting with madness: You can drive yourself crazy, or you can get over it. The choice is yours."[5]

Tom Coates from the BBC wrote: "Girl, Interrupted is a decent adaptation of [Kaysen's] memoir of this period, neatened up and polished for an audience more familiar with gloss than grit."[6]

Author opinion[edit]

The author, Susanna Kaysen, was among the detractors of the film, accusing Mangold of adding "melodramatic drivel" to the story by inventing plot points that were not in the book (such as Lisa and Susanna running away together).[7]



  1. The Doors performing "Roadhouse Blues"
  2. Merrilee Rush performing "Angel of the Morning"
  3. Petula Clark performing "Downtown"
  4. Skeeter Davis performing "The End of the World"
  5. Aretha Franklin performing "Night Time Is the Right Time"
  6. Jefferson Airplane performing "Comin' Back to Me"
  7. Them performing "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"
  8. The Chambers Brothers performing "Time Has Come Today'"
  9. The Band performing "The Weight"
  10. The Mamas & the Papas performing "Got a Feeling"
  11. Wilco performing "How to Fight Loneliness"
  12. Simon & Garfunkel performing "Bookends Theme"


  1. ^ "Girl, Interrupted (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  2. ^ "Information on the filming of Girl, Interrupted at Harrisburg State Hospital". Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  3. ^ "Girl, Interrupted Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  4. ^ "Girl, Interrupted Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  5. ^ "New York Times Review". New York Times. 1999-12-21. Retrieved 2010-06-21.[dead link]
  6. ^ "BBC Review". BBC. 2001-06-28. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  7. ^ Danker, Jared. "Susanna Kaysen, without interruptions"[permanent dead link]. Retrieved 2003-02-04.

External links[edit]