Girl, Interrupted (film)

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Girl, Interrupted
Girl, Interrupted Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Mangold
Produced by Douglas Wick
Cathy Konrad
Screenplay by James Mangold
Lisa Loomer
Anna Hamilton Phelan
Based on Girl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen
Starring Winona Ryder
Angelina Jolie
Clea DuVall
Brittany Murphy
Elisabeth Moss
Jared Leto
Jeffrey Tambor
Vanessa Redgrave
Whoopi Goldberg
Music by Mychael Danna
Cinematography Jack N. Green
Edited by Kevin Tent
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • December 21, 1999 (1999-12-21)
Running time
127 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million
Box office $48.3 million[1]

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 considerable praise for her performance and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award.

Plot[edit]

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 Claymore. 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 Claymore 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.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Filming[edit]

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.[2] Deleted scenes were also filmed at Reading's Public Museum.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed reviews upon release. However, Angelina Jolie's performance received much praise from critics. Girl, Interrupted currently holds a rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes,[3] and a rating of 51 on Metacritic,[4] 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."[5]

Tom Coates from the BBC wrote: "Girl, Interrupted is a decent adaptation of her 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 never happened in the book (such as Lisa and Susanna running away together).[7]

Accolades[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

  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"

References[edit]

  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". TheJusticeOnline.com. Retrieved 2003-02-04.

External links[edit]