Girl, Interrupted (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Mangold|
|Produced by||Douglas Wick
|Screenplay by||James Mangold
Anna Hamilton Phelan
|Based on||Girl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen
|Music by||Mychael Danna|
|Cinematography||Jack N. Green|
|Edited by||Kevin Tent|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$48.3 million|
Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 American psychological thriller film, and a loosely based adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir of the same name. The film chronicles Kaysen's 18-month stay at a mental institution. Directed by James Mangold, the film stars Winona Ryder (who also served as an executive producer on the film) as Kaysen, with a supporting cast that includes Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Clea DuVall, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Moss and Vanessa Redgrave.
Girl, Interrupted was released on December 21, 1999. Although the film received mixed reviews from film critics, Jolie received praise for her performance and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award.
The story surrounds 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) who has a nervous breakdown and takes an overdose of pills. While she denies she tried to kill herself, she does suffer from depression and lack of motivation. For her suicidal actions, she is checked into a psychiatric hospital and encounters a number of the patients on her journey to recovery.
Among those on the ward, she befriends Polly (Elisabeth Moss) who is a childlike schizophrenic who set herself on fire, Georgina (Clea DuVall), a pathological liar, and Daisy (Brittany Murphy), who cuts herself and has an eating disorder. But above all, Susanna is fascinated by the ward’s long-time resident, Lisa (Angelina Jolie) who is a rebellious, hateful, manipulative, but charismatic girl considered to be a sociopath. The two form a bond and Lisa encourages Susanna to stop taking her meds and resist therapy.
Susanna’s interactions with her new-found friends varies from sweet to confrontational, showing her to be quite human, but also a little lost on her journey through life at that point. She shows remarkable kindness toward those who are less certain about their future, but enjoys her rebellious streak and the camaraderie she finds with Lisa. The girls’ actions range from pranks, indulging in fantasies, and mild manipulations to verbally violent attacks on one another. Lisa knows the operation and layout of the facility, the people, and how to manipulate them and circumstances to suit her desires. She is undaunted by the punishments she receives. At one point, after she disappears for one such punishment, she convinces Susanna to break out of the hospital, and they run to the home of the newly released Daisy, who is now living in a house provided by her adoring father.
Lisa has no patience for Daisy, as a rule, but isn’t above using her, knowing the girl will have money and she’ll give it to them. But Lisa’s hatefulness surfaces in short order and she verbally attacks Daisy, exposing the fact that Daisy has had an incestuous relationship with her father for years, and leaves Daisy desperate and in tears. Susanna tries to smooth things over, but Daisy withdraws. Later, Susanna discovers Daisy has committed suicide, and is appalled at Lisa’s callous attitude when she searches for and finds whatever cash she can (including searching Daisy's body), and then leaves the house to go on the run.
Susanna has finally reached her nexus and realizes she doesn’t want to become like Lisa. She phones for an ambulance and then returns to Claymoore. She pursues treatment with her new-found positive outlook, stops feeling sorry for herself, works at her painting and writing, and cooperates with her therapy—pointing herself toward freedom and a promising life.
Just before her release, however, Lisa is returned to the facility. When she finds out about Susanna’s impending release Lisa strikes out at her. In an effort to secure her superior position at Claymoore and spew hatred on Susanna, Lisa has stolen a diary of Susanna’s and reads it for the amusement of some of the patients so they can ridicule her together. At this, Susanna explodes, and angrily tells Lisa she is “dead already.” Lisa breaks down and she reveals that perhaps she has been living a lie, that she probably isn’t a sociopath at all, but she is very troubled. The two are reconciled. Before Susanna is released the next day, she goes to see Lisa one last time and there are indications that Lisa is going to change after all for the better.
In a poignant summary done in voice over, Susanna says that despite the intense conflicts that arose at the institution, it still holds strong memories for her and she will not readily forget any of those she encountered there.
- Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen, the protagonist. She is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
- Angelina Jolie as Lisa Rowe, diagnosed as a sociopath. She is charismatic, manipulative, rebellious and abusive. Over her eight years at the institute she has escaped several times but is always caught and is brought back eventually. She is looked up to by the other patients in the ward.
- Brittany Murphy as Daisy Randone, a sexually abused girl with bulimia and OCD who cuts herself. She keeps the carcasses of the cooked chicken that her father brings her in her room.
- Clea DuVall as Georgina Tuskin, a pathological liar. She is Susanna's roommate.
- Elisabeth Moss as Polly "Torch" Clark, a burn victim. She is childlike and easily upset.
- Angela Bettis as Janet Webber, an anorexic. Like Lisa she is abrasive and seemingly aloof, but is also easily irritated or upset.
- Jillian Armenante as Cynthia Crowley. She claims that she is a sociopath like Lisa, but Lisa denies this claim and states that she is a "dyke". She is easily amused.
- Travis Fine as John, an orderly, who's smitten with Susanna. He's later sent to work at the men's ward after he and Susanna kiss and sleep together.
- Kurtwood Smith as Dr. Crumble, a colleague of Susanna's father and retired therapist, but sees Susanna as a patient as a favor to her father and is the one that 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
- Vanessa Redgrave as Dr. Sonia Wick
- Whoopi Goldberg as Valerie Owens, RN
- Bruce Altman as Professor Gilcrest, a college professor who Susanna had an affair with.
- Mary Kay Place as Barbara Gilcrest, Professor Gilcrest's wife.
- KaDee Strickland as Bonnie Gilcrest, Professor Gilcrest's daughter.
- Robin Reck as Theresa McCullian
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, a week earlier they had been purchased by Douglas Wick. 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 Mangold was the right man for the role as director after she saw his directorial debut Heavy, which explored similar themes to Girl, Interrupted.
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 drug store simply titled "Drugs", all of which gave the film its time-dated appearance. A shot seen in the trailer shows the van traveling towards downtown Harrisburg over the State Street Bridge, where the Capitol building is clearly visible. Deleted scenes were also filmed at Reading's Public Museum.
The film received mixed reviews upon release. However, Angelina Jolie's performance received critical acclaim. Girl, Interrupted currently holds a rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a rating of 51 on Metacritic, indicating largely mixed reviews from critics.
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."
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 never happened in the book (such as Lisa and Susanna running away together).
- Academy Award
- Golden Globe Award
- Screen Actors Guild Award
- Teen Choice Awards
- The Doors performing "Roadhouse Blues"
- Merrilee Rush performing "Angel of the Morning"
- Petula Clark performing "Downtown"
- Skeeter Davis performing "The End of the World"
- Aretha Franklin performing "Night Time Is the Right Time"
- Jefferson Airplane performing "Comin' Back to Me"
- Them performing "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"
- The Chambers Brothers performing "Time Has Come Today'"
- The Band performing "The Weight"
- The Mamas & the Papas performing "Got a Feeling"
- Wilco performing "How to Fight Loneliness"
- Simon & Garfunkel performing "Bookends Theme"
- "Girl, Interrupted (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
- "Information on the filming of Girl, Interrupted at Harrisburg State Hospital". Retrieved 2011-01-27.
- "Girl, Interrupted Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- "Girl, Interrupted Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- "New York Times Review". New York Times. 1999-12-21. Retrieved 2010-06-21.[dead link]
- "BBC Review". BBC. 2001-06-28. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- Danker, Jared. "Susanna Kaysen, without interruptions". TheJusticeOnline.com. Retrieved 2003-02-04.
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