Girl, Interrupted

"Weak"

Girl, Interrupted Review


Teen angst gets the "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" treatment in "Girl, Interrupted," James Mangold's disappointingly common and commercial follow-up to his earlier, low-budget wonders "Heavy" and "Cop Land."

Poor Winona Ryder -- in her late 20s and still playing teenagers -- stars as 1960s suburban college drop-out Susanna, a compulsive writer stuck in an upscale asylum for a "rest" after mixing booze and a bottle of pain killers.

Borderline Personality Disorder is the maddeningly vague diagnosis of her psychological bugaboos -- the movie seems to want to make a point about our culture's tendency to seek scapegoats for our neuroses -- so Susanna is packed off to a New England psychiatric hospital where, in between the pill dole from the nursing staff, she writes endlessly in her dog-eared journal and fills it with tell-tale drawings the camera can cut to for moments of cheap insight.

Locked away with her is a predictable assembly of whiny girls with an A to Z of emotional issues -- the burn victim with internal scars to match the outer ones, the disturbed, Doris Day-like, daddy's girl (Brittany Murphy), deeply in denial about a dark family secret. Susanna gets treatment from a presumptuously smirking doctor (Vanessa Redgrave, shining in a tiny role) and homespun wisdom from a durable, sagacious RN (Whoopi Goldberg, in a big ol' afro). Of course, she also latches on to the charismatic resident troublemaker, Lisa (Angelina Jolie), a sexualized sociopath who has been in and out of the institution for eight years.

Mangold gets off to a good start in this adaptation of a best-selling memoir by novelist Susanna Kaysen, narrating what promises to be a predictable story from inside the girl's head, which is a confused jumble of times and events, illustrated with disorienting editing and camera techniques.

But it isn't long before the director's creativity is numbed by the conventions he can't seem to avoid -- the sanctimonious Questioning of the System (should Susanna be in here at all?), and the inevitable, empowering (and temporary) escape of Lisa and Susanna -- just as the ensemble of afflicted young patients are numbed by their medication.

Pixie-haired Ryder does a fine job of portraying a girl on the edge of instability, even if she does employ the same brow-stitching anxiety accouterments she's put to use in what must be a dozen other films by now.

Jolie, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe and is the topic of Oscar buzz, is certainly magnetic as the wildly temperamental Lisa. But her performance feels like an asylum rehash of her Emmy-winning role as the coke-addicted '80s fashion model "Gia" in HBO's 1998 biopic. Anyone who hasn't seem that picture may well be amazed by her performance here. She's a talented actress. But anyone who has seen "Gia" will experience deja vu.

Ultimately, "Girl, Interrupted" is an oddly warm and fuzzy mental hospital movie without much of an emotional hook -- and nothing at all like "Cuckoo's Nest," to which even I am guilty of drawing a prosaic comparison. It's been tweaked for the chick flick demographic and burdened with too-obvious allusions (parallels are drawn between our heroine's condition and the social upheaval of the '60s) and too-easy solutions. What do you know -- venting in her journal makes Susanna feel better!

The movie may strike a chord with teenage (and maybe even twentysomething) girls who feel they're experiencing the same kind of persecution in their lives, and from that purging-mechanism point of view I can see how it might have some appeal. But if you don't already have something in common with Susanna, the whole experience will likely feel trite.



Girl, Interrupted

Facts and Figures

Run time: 127 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th January 2000

Budget: $40M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 60 Rotten: 52

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Susanna Kaysen, as Lisa Rowe, as Valerie Owens, as Dr. Wick, as Georgina Tuskin, as Daisy Randone, as Toby, as Polly Clark, as Dr. Melvin Potts, as Janet Webber, as Cynthia Crowley, Drucie McDaniel as M.G., Christina Myers as Nurse Margie, as Nurse John, as Barbara Gilcrest

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.