Girl, Interrupted (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Mangold|
|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 drama film directed by James Mangold, and starring Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Moss, Angela Bettis, and Vanessa Redgrave. Based on Susanna Kaysen's memoir of the same name, it follows a young woman who, after a suicide attempt, spends 18 months at a psychiatric hospital between 1967 and 1968.
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.
In 1967 New England, aimless 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen has a nervous breakdown and overdoses on aspirin, after which she is checked into Claymoore, a local psychiatric hospital. Previously, she had an affair with Professor Gilcrest, an English instructor, as well as 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; Daisy Randone, who self-harms and has obsessive–compulsive disorder; and Janet, a sardonic woman with anorexia. Susanna is particularly 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.
Lisa helps the girls sneak around at night in the hospital's underground tunnels, as well as constantly provokes them and the staff, including the stern head nurse, Valerie. Through regular therapy sessions with Dr. Melvin Potts, Susanna comes to learn she has borderline personality disorder, a fact Dr. Potts initially keeps concealed from her. On a rare supervised group outing celebrating Daisy's impending release, the women visit an ice cream parlor in town. There, Susanna is confronted by Barbara Gilcrest, wife of Professor Gilcrest, and their daughter, Bonnie. Barbara publicly scolds Susanna for sleeping with her husband, but Lisa and the others vehemently come to Susanna's defense, humiliating Barbara and her daughter. This endears Susanna to Lisa even more, though Valerie reprimands Lisa.
One day, Tobias, who has been drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, 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, but not with him. That night, Polly has a breakdown and is placed in isolation. Susanna and Lisa drug the night watch nurse with a sedative, and attempt to comfort Polly by singing to her. Susanna makes out with John, one of the hospital orderlies who has a crush on her. When Valerie finds the group sleeping in the hallway in the morning, she punishes the two women, particularly Lisa, who is forced to endure electroshock therapy followed by solitary confinement.
Later that night, Lisa manages to break out of confinement and convinces Susanna to escape with her. The women hitchhike to Daisy's newly-rented apartment, supplied by her doting father, and bribe her with valium to spend the night. Daisy, insistent she has been cured of her illness, is confronted by Lisa when Lisa discovers she has been cutting herself. Lisa taunts Daisy, accusing her of enjoying the incestuous sexual abuse she has long suffered from her father. The next morning, Susanna finds Daisy dead in her bathroom, having slashed 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, while Lisa flees to Florida.
Back at the hospital, Susanna occupies herself with painting and writing, and cooperates with her therapy, including regular sessions with the hospital's head psychologist, Dr. Sonia Wick. Before Susanna is released, Lisa is apprehended and returned to Claymoore. She steals Susanna's diary one night and reads it for the amusement of the patients in the tunnels, turning them against Susanna. After reading an entry in which Susanna feels sympathy for Lisa being a cold, dark person, Lisa attacks Susanna, and chases her through the tunnels. Cornered, Susanna confronts Lisa, accusing her of being dead inside, emotionally dependent on Claymoore, and afraid of the world; this profoundly affects Lisa, who breaks down and attempts to commit suicide, but the others dissuade her from doing so. Before Susanna is released the next day, she goes to visit Lisa, who is restrained to a bed. The two reconcile, and Lisa insists she is not actually heartless.
- 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. 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 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 who suffers from schizophrenia. She is sixteen years old and is very childlike and easily upset. Georgina informs Susanna that Polly was admitted to Claymoore after her parents told her that she would have to give up her puppy because of her allergies to it, and in response she poured gasoline on the affected area and set it alight, leaving her face horribly scarred. It is later revealed in Polly's file that she was the victim of a house fire.
- 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 twenty-two and is easily amused.
- 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, the head psychologist of the hospital.
- Whoopi Goldberg as Valerie Owens, R.N., the stern but caring head nurse who oversees the hospital.
- 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 June 1993, Columbia Pictures fought off a number of other studios to buy the film rights to Kaysen’s memoir. Ryder, who had also attempted to buy the film rights, ultimately partnered with producer Douglas Wick to develop the project as a star vehicle. The film was then stuck in development hell for five years, with three different scripts written but none satisfying Ryder and Wick, their reasoning being that Kaysen's book struggled to translate to film. Ryder approached Mangold to direct, after seeing his film debut Heavy. Ryder, Wick and Mangold settled on a final shooting script in mid-1998, with Columbia pushing back production on the film until early 1999 in order for Ryder to shoot their horror movie Lost Souls.
Because of the volume of strong female characters in the film, a number of young actresses sought parts in it. Reese Witherspoon, Christina Ricci, Katie Holmes, Gretchen Mol, Kate Hudson, Alicia Witt, Sarah Polley and Rose McGowan all auditioned for unspecified roles. “It’s the only decent thing out there that doesn’t involve taking your clothes off,” McGowan said in 1998. Mangold also met with Courtney Love to discuss the role of Lisa, and Alanis Morissette for a role. Parker Posey turned down a role, while Leelee Sobieski signed on to play Daisy, but dropped out weeks before filming began after receiving an offer to star in Joan of Arc.
Filming took place primarily in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, as well as in Harrisburg State Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in early 1999. 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. Scenes later deleted were also filmed at Reading's Public Museum.
Girl, Interrupted received mixed reviews from critics, with Jolie's performance receiving critical acclaim. As of 2020, the film holds a rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 114 reviews. The site's consensus states: "Angelina Jolie gives an intense performance, but overall Girl, Interrupted suffers from thin, predictable plotting that fails to capture the power of its source material." The film also has a rating of 51 on Metacritic based 32 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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." 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." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times was critical of the screenplay adaptation from the source novel, writing that it has "a hard time resisting manufacturing obvious, standard-issue drama of the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest knockoff variety," though he conceded that the performances of Ryder and Jolie help the film "stay as honest as it manages to sporadically be... Both women have connected strongly to their parts, and they ensure their characters’ reality even if the dramas they are involved with don’t always rise to that standard."
Paul Tatara of CNN panned the film's screenplay for containing little "self-reflection in the dialogue," adding that "Each girl is simply issued a quirk that she drags around like a ball and chain." Tatara summarized: "The good news is that writer-director James Mangold's Girl, Interrupted is one of the best films of the year. The bad news is that you have to be a hyper-sensitive 17-year-old girl to think so." Roger Ebert was critical of the film's failure to focus on the themes it presents, writing: "The film is mostly about character and behavior and although there are individual scenes of powerful acting, there doesn't seem to be a destination. That's why the conclusion is so unsatisfying: The story, having failed to provide itself with character conflicts that can be resolved with drama, turns to melodrama instead."
Charlotte O'Sullivan of the Time Out Film Guide praised Jolie's performance, but was critical of Ryder's: "Does it matter that every time Jolie's offscreen the film wilts a little? Ryder should be perfect as the bright spark; her lines are sharp as a knife. There's a gap, however, between what we hear and what we see. Ryder's too wide-eyed and cutesy, and when we see her with nurse Valerie (Goldberg), we know it's only a matter of time before they start hugging." The San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Stack was unimpressed by the film, deeming it "a muddled production that misses the jarring tone of the autobiographical book by Susanna Kaysen on which it is based. The film is entertaining, but not very powerful." Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News gave the film a mixed review, awarding it two out of four stars, writing that "[Ryder] is often just a crumpled, listless figure on a bed, which, while true to the nature of depression, is not, cinematically speaking, the most arresting image," and likening the performances of Whoopi Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave as "bordering on cameos."
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).
|Academy Awards||2000||Best Supporting Actress||Angelina Jolie||Won|||
|Critics' Choice Awards||2000||Best Movie Supporting Actress||Won|||
|Golden Globe Awards||2000||Best Supporting Actress||Won|||
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||2000||Outstanding Supporting Actress||Won|||
|Teen Choice Awards||2000||Choice Drama Movie Actress of the Year||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Hissy Fit of the Year||Nominated|||
|Choice Drama Movie of the Year||Girl, Interrupted||Nominated|
The film's official soundtrack was released on January 18, 2000.
|2.||"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"||Them||3:50|
|3.||"Got a Feelin'"||The Mamas and the Papas||2:44|
|4.||"Time Has Come Today"||The Chambers Brothers||2:37|
|5.||"Comin' Back to Me"||Jefferson Airplane||5:14|
|6.||"Angel of the Morning"||Merrilee Rush||3:19|
|7.||"Right Time"||Aretha Franklin||4:45|
|8.||"How to Fight Loneliness"||Wilco||3:52|
|10.||"The End of the World"||Skeeter Davis||2:33|
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- Stack, Peter (January 14, 2000). "Sappy `Girl' Lacks Character Development". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on January 31, 2020.
- Bernard, Jami (December 21, 1999). "'Girl'–it's one long interruption". New York Daily News. p. 52 – via Newspapers.com.
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