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
"When you don't want to feel...death can seem like a dream"
Girl, Interrupted (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Girl, Interrupted (DVD)
Advantages: Well acted, deals with some interesting issues, quite atmospheric
Disadvantages: A bit scrappy, too long, mumbled dialogue
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 128 mins
DIRECTOR: James Mangold
PRODUCERS: Cathy Konrad & Douglas Wick
SCREENPLAY: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer & Anna Hamilton Phelan
MUSIC: Mychael Danna
Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen
Angelina Jolie as Lisa
Whoopi Goldberg as Valerie
Vanessa Redgrave as Dr. Wick
Brittany Murphy as Daisy
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Adapted from Susanna Kaysen's novel of the same name, Girl, Interrupted is set in the late 1960s and begins with Susanna being rushed to hospital after what appears to be a deliberate overdose. When referred to a psychiatrist, who is a friend of the family, Susanna insists the overdose episode hadn't been a suicide attempt, and she reluctantly agrees to spend some time at a the Claymore psychiatric hospital on a voluntary basis.
Feeling out of place in Claymore at first, Susanna gradually makes friends with some of the patients, particularly the wild and rebel-rousing Lisa.
Firstly, due to the name of the author of the novel of Girl, Interrupted and the main character being the same, I perhaps wrongly assume that this story is an account of Susanna Kaysen's own experience.
From the start, and for me, Girl, Interrupted is steeped in a bleak atmosphere, and I could almost feel the depression and sense of isolation that Susanna experiences. That 'nowhere' place which is all so common to sufferers of depression coupled with a lack of understanding from both family and medical staff, is put across so very well, although to me Susanna's condition seemed less severe than the diagnosis suggested. The communication problems with psychiatrists, therapists and hospital staff is spot-on, particularly homing in on the issue of expecting patients to neatly respond to the very limiting practice of 'text book' diagnosis and therapy.
The acting is very good, particularly that of Angelina Jolie, who played the almost anarchic character of Lisa.....sometimes bullying, sometimes full of life and fun, always out to shock, and definitely disturbed. Winona Ryder also gives a very adept performance as Susanna Kaysen, a young woman who - as far as I see it - is simply having some problems relating to the world around her and needs to be seen and understood, rather than incarcerated in a place where the majority of the patients are quite seriously mentally ill.
As far as the music is concerned, it is a mixed bunch. I wasn't overly aware of a specific score - although there is one - but that score is peppered with snatches of pop music from the 1960s, including gems from The Doors, Simon & Garfunkel, Petula Clark, Aretha Franklin, Them, The Mamas & The Papas, Merilee Rush, The Band, Buddy Kaye and Skeeter Davis, to name just a few. The addition of this 1960s pop music helps to create the atmosphere of the era pretty well, although the overall feel I got from the film regarding people's personalities and the way they relate to one another, is far more up to date. Such is difficult for me to explain, but I see a major difference in the basic human condition as it was in the 1960s compared to today, and Girl, Interrupted I feel lost something in that I didn't feel as though the people came from the 1960s, even though the music, medical practices, fashions and similar did come across as historically accurate.
I couldn't help comparing Girl, Interrupted to the original 1975 version of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, in that the basic idea is of somebody being hospitalised (voluntarily) who perhaps really shouldn't be there, but the root concept and storyline of the two films is different. Also, and for me, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a much more penetrating, hard-hitting and powerful film, whereas although Girl, Interrupted does have its moments, it lacks a certain punch that I'd like to have seen present. I also found some of the events in the film to be rather bitty, lacking proper follow-through, which deviated from the root point of the storyline. In addition, I felt that too much emphasis was placed upon the antics of the character Lisa, which, especially towards the end of the film, came across to me as somewhat unreal.
There are a couple of scenes in Girl, Interrupted that some people may be distressed or disturbed by, but I personally didn't find them so, perhaps because I've seen One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and similar films where I feel that the topic of mental illness is dealt with in a far more convincing and realistic way. Also and for me, Girl, Interrupted is a little too long and about midway through, I found I had to concentrate harder than was comfortable, for the purposes of holding onto the storyline.
I would have liked to see more of Susanna's therapy sessions, whereas only short snatches of them are included, those for me having more importance than patient to patient interaction, but it is possible that my expectations were veering me away from the whole point of the film.
One or two spoken phrases from the character of Susanna, whilst she was trying to explain how she was feeling to her therapists did strike home, and I feel they were very well conveyed, along with the therapists merely uttering the right noises rather than treating Susanna as an individual. Such shows up major flaws in how the whole area of therapy and psychiatric care, especially how it perhaps was during the 1960s when much less was known and understood about the human condition than it now is.
Unfortunately, there are large swathes of Girl, Interrupted, where the actors don't enunciate clearly, and I thus missed what could be important parts of dialogue. I found this to be a major distraction, very frustrating and hard work trying to home in on what people were saying to one another.
There are a couple of moderately heart-warming scenes of interaction between Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen and Whoopi Goldberg as Valerie, who I believe to be the head nurse on Susanna's ward, but one of them was in serious danger of lapsing into something tackily mawkish....it didn't quite sink to those depths, but it came close.
Overall, Girl, Interrupted is a good film which is well worth watching, but as said above, for me it lacked a certain finesse and power which prevented it from sinking too deeply into my psyche and making me think. The acting is more than acceptable and the basic storyline, although not put across as intricately as I'd have liked, is good. I'd also like to have seen some of the scrappier little odds and sods tidied up, but nonetheless and as a whole, this certainly is a very watchable, quite well-acted film.
I would like to award four stars, but the major flaw of largely indistinct spoken dialogue forces me to drop my rating down to three stars, as such was a major fly in the ointment of my enjoyment of the film.
At the time of writing, Girl, Interrupted can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.28 to £34.99
Used: from 13p to £10.00
Collectible: Only one copy currently available @ £5.99
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: Worth a watch, but not as good as I was expecting