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Girl, Interrupted

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Girl, Interrupted

Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie
Director: James Mangold
Rated: R
RunTime: 127 Minutes
Release Date: January 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Vanessa Redgrave, Clea Duvall, Brittany Murphy, Elizabeth Moss, Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, Travis Fine

Review by UK Critic
1 star out of 4

"Haven't you ever confused a dream with reality, stolen something when you had the cash, or thought your train moving as it sat in the station?" she pleads with us in the opening scenes. But that's not the kind of behaviour she's being locked up for. This is a young lady who responds "What?" whenever anyone asks her a question, drifts into daydreaming in the middle of sentences and thinks it's perfectly acceptable to guzzle great quantities of pills and vodka.

Her name is Susanna Kaysen, a real-life figure whose book this movie is based on. If the film is anything to go by, I'm lucky that I never read it. "Girl, Interrupted" is a pathetic example of someone denying she's in denial; it's as stupid as Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" without the engaging style. There are journal entries in the film we're supposed to accept as profound philosophising. Most of them are just the kind of pretentious stream-of-consciousness drivel that many teenage girls write, only to look back on years later and cringe with embarrassment.

The story is set in the 1960s -- boys are being shipped to their deaths in Vietnam, and Susanna (Winona Ryder) thinks she's got a hard life because her mother is hassling her about going to college. After a suicide attempt, she is encouraged to sign herself into Claymoore, an expensive mental hospital where the head nurse (Whoopi Goldberg) gives a straightforwardly accurate diagnosis: "You are a lazy, self-indulgent little girl who is driving herself crazy."

Susanna does a lot of mellow lying around, drunk on her own superiority, convinced she's "artistic" rather than crazy. Fellow inmate Lisa (Angelina Jolie) offers her support, probably because the two women have the same problem -- thinking they know the secrets of the universe, when they're actually defective jerks. Other friendly faces include a pathological liar (Clea Duvall) and a girl who likes to set herself on fire (Elisabeth Moss). Anyone in a position of authority, or who displays the least bit of conventionality, is portrayed as an uptight white-collar conservative square. I am reminded of "Reality Bites" (1994), another film starring Ryder in which the alleged heroes were self-obsessed layabout losers.

"Girl, Interrupted" is moronic and arrogant crap, not least because its obnoxious onscreen behaviour is accompanied by a voice-over that asks, essentially, "Can you BELIEVE these stuffed shirts thought I was obnoxious?" Perhaps the book or true events would lead me to a different conclusion, but the Susanna Kaysen of this film could use a good hard slap in the face.

Copyright 2000 UK Critic

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