Before I begin, allow me to point out that this is hardly the type of movie I
would normally review, thus my opinion may be a tad biased. That said, "Girl,
Interrupted" is a rather unoriginal film (think of an all female version of
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") with some wonderful performances, but
without a great story to pull them together. In fact, I'm having difficulty
determining just what the point of this film was. If there were there a
stronger plot at work here, I believe this could have been a good little flick.
Susanna (Winona Ryder) has the distinction of being the only member of her
graduating class not going on to college. Due to this and several other minor
mental problems (such as taking a bottle of Asprin with a Vodka chaser), her
parents have decided the best place for her is Claymoore mental institute.
While there, she meets the sociopathic Lisa (Angelina Jolie), whom she forms a
friendship with. The two are soon driving the head nurse, Valerie (Whoopi
Goldberg), up a wall, and they decide the time has come for them to leave the
In addition to the uninvolving plot, we're given a story that is more than a
little implausible. The girls in this hospital seem able to leave the premises
whenever they feel like it simply by sneaking out through hidden tunnels and
picking locks. I know this is based on the book by Susanna Kaysen, and the book
is based on her real life experiences, but this still seems more than a little
implausible. Another rather irritating idea which is used here involves the
girls never taking their medication, but simply hiding and trading pills. This
isn't used to advance the plot in any way, it simply goes further to show how
ridiculously unbelievable the story is.
The reason to see this movie, and the reason I gave it three stars rather than
two and a half, is the acting. Angelina Jolie is in top form here as the
manipulative, unpredictable Lisa. I haven't been a large fan of Jolie in the
past; but I believe part of this is due to her choosing the wrong roles, such
as those in "The Bone Collector" and "Tin Cup". Wynona Ryder may not be quite
as effective as the ever confused Susanna, but she's still more than simply
adequate. She's given some interesting dialogue near the beginning of the film,
where she attempts to describe her illness to a doctor. The supporting cast is
uniformly good, with especially interesting performances from Clea DuVall,
Brittany Murphy, and Elizabeth Moss as fellow patients; and look for a
particularly good cameo by Vanessa Redgrave as a psychiatrist
At times, "Girl, Interrupted" is more a comedy than a drama, and I personally
wish it had tried to be comedy a bit more often. For example, a scene in which
the girls are taken to an ice cream parlor is hysterical; but it grows serious
again far too quickly, and you begin missing these moments of humor. The film
runs a tad too long at 127 minutes, and it never seems to know when to end. We
keep expecting each scene to be the last, but another soon follows. I can't
quite recommend "Girl, Interrupted" in theatres, but I would suggest trying to
catch it on video, if for no other purpose, to see Angelina Jolie's remarkable
performance. I give it three stars.
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* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now.
* * * * - Great flick. Try and catch this one.
* * * - Okay movie, hits and misses.
* * - Pretty bad. See it if you've got nothing better to do.
* - One of the worst movies ever. See it only if you enjoy pain.
Copyright © 2000 John Beachem