Newest Review: ... so you are unsure of how much of what she is thinking is true or just in her mind. Very quickly, we end up at Claymoore where it is cle... more
One Flew Over the Crazy Nest
Girl, Interrupted (DVD)
Member Name: ihatebroccoli
Girl, Interrupted (DVD)
Date: 08/10/00, updated on 08/10/00 (102 review reads)
Advantages: Angelina Jolie, great script
Disadvantages: The ending
This is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, and definitely contains some of the best characters. Winona Ryder plays Susanna Kaysen, a girl whose life has been “interrupted” when she is diagnosed with “Borderline Personality Disorder”, and prescribed a “short rest” in “Claymoore” (a psychiatric institution for mentally ill young girl patients, somewhat reminiscent of the hospital Sylvia Plath writes about being placed in, in “The Bell Jar”).
This might put you off somewhat, thinking that this film is “depressing” and going to be a “hard slog”, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Yes there are some “depressing moments” if you will, but that’s sort of the nature of the film, after all, it *is* set for the most part in a mental institution. However, despite the hardships Susanna endures
fitting in as a patient, she makes great progress in her relationships with other people, namely her fellow patients, and it makes for a captivating viewing.
Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) takes a bottle of aspirin chased by a bottle of vodka for “a headache”, and is diagnosed with “Borderline Personality Disorder”. She is sent to “Claymoore” for a “short rest”, despite being there over a year, and befriends the other girl patients, each with their own stories to tell, and own reasons why they are there, and why they can’t leave. Kaysen meets the infamous Lisa (played fantastically by Angelina Jolie), who is a “lifer”, meaning that it is unlikely that she will ever leave the institution. Lisa leads Kaysen on a trip through life and through the world that is the hospital, visiting the other girls, breaking out, running away, and having to deal with some tricky situations. Kaysen realises that she
is in fact not crazy, by comparing her life to those of the girls around her, and her improvement is shown by the rational decisions she begins to make.
I won’t give away the ending, but it is the changes (or not) in people which she witnesses, which allow her to be released from the hospital, and to return to a relatively normal life.
The film inevitably draws comparisons from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in that, there is a character (Susanna) who is the relatively sane one (the Jack Nicholson part), and it’s about the friendships of people in the same circumstances, fighting against themselves, and the forces which insure they remain in the hospital. Another similarity can be drawn from the experiences talked about in Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book “Prozac Nation”, a book about an academically bright girl, and her fight against depression.
Set in 1967, Girl, Interrupted is a true-life story written by Susanna Kaysen, upon which the film is based, and who was herself, hospitalised at McClean Hospital (representing Claymoore) during the 1960s. Her book “Girl, Interrupted” is published, and the screenplay was written by director James Mangold. In the extra features on the DVD, the real Susanna Kaysen talks about her feelings about the film, saying that she felt a real affinity with Winona Ryder, who played her. The film stars Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Jared Leto (as Ryder’s love interest Toby), Brittany Murphy (Daisy), Whoopi Goldberg (Valerie), and Vanessa Redgrave (Kaysen’s psychiatrist at the hospital).
Initially I was put off going to see this film, because it had Whoopi Goldberg in it, and I guess I’m one of those people who sometimes tend to stereotype actors in a role – I just couldn’t get the “Sister Act” image out of my head. She was, however, fantastic, and t
he role of nurse Valerie, was perfect for her. I also liked the fact that this film is set in the sixties, it makes it all the more interesting when, for example, the outside world is shown in comparison to the stark environment of the hospital.
The film chronicles Kaysen’s improvement, as well as showing this improvement as a direct result of spending so much time with “her crazy friends”. Angelina Jolie is fantastic as the seductive, captivating and rebellious Lisa, which won her “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” at both the 2000 Oscars and Golden Globes. Winona Ryder is also perfectly cast as Susanna, the impish-looking lead who keeps us magnetised until the end (which was definitely not my favourite part).
Liked it so much, I bought the DVD…
Interactive menus include:
- Audio set-up
- Language choice
- Multiple language subtitles (always good for watching in Croatian or Dutch, should you so desire it)
- Scene selections
The DVD has some good extra features. Rated 15, there are deleted scenes (some a little strange), a director’s commentary, filmographies, an isolated movie score, “making of” featurette, menus with the film score, and the trailer. No booklet though, but the extra features more than make up for it.
Reasons to see it:
- Great engaging true story
- Brilliant casting
- Excellent acting
- DVD has some good extra features.
- Angelina Jolie
Reasons not to see it:
- “You’ve got more important things to do than watch films all day” - Mum