There’s a lot to unpackage when we’re talking about the movie adaptation of “Girl, Interrupted”. There’s a lot to love and a lot to hate for this movie, and that list has just grown as this movie has aged into the classic turn of the millennia movie that it is. So that’s what I’m going to say before I just go ahead and get into what “Girl, Interrupted” Did really well, and what it didn’t do nearly as well on.
lead female roles that were groundbreaking
“Girl, Interrupted” came out in 1999, a powerhouse year for female roles in Hollywood. Movies “The Virgin Suicides”, “Cruel Intentions” and “Jawbreaker” also came out that same year, so there was a lot of buzz in Hollywood for movies that featured leading female roles. This is a stark contrast to the movies that were debut in the decade earlier; in 1989 “Far From Home” and “When Harry Met Sally” came out, and one could call these roles following a more traditional, gender conforming roles as far as their leading ladies were concerned.
“Girl, Interrupted” had an amazing cast of women portraying roles that were unheard of for women up until that point, and the women played their roles phenomenally. These actresses include Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder, Brittany Murphy and Elizabeth Moss.
Angelina Jolie gives me chills in this movie from her incredible portrayal of Lisa, the sociopath that has the entire institution under her control.
Cinematography was well done
The plot isn’t linear, as Susanna isn’t a reliable narrator. Thus, there’s a lot of back and forth along a time-line. This movie does this well, cutting between the present day with a certain sound or visual hallucination that breaks from the present to the past that Susanna may be thinking about.
This is shown at times when a nurse knocks on the door and Susanna is transported back to a time, she’s with her boyfriend Toby.
DEPICTION OF MENTAL HEALTH COULD’VE BEEN BETTER…and here’s when it goes downhill
“You are a lazy, self indulgent little girl who is driving herself crazy.”-Valerie Owens, RN (from Girl, Interrupted)
That is not how real psychology works. Susanna is diagnosed by her psychologist as having the condition of borderline personality. Borderline personality is a very real condition, and no licensed registered nurse would’ve told her she’s lazy and self-indulgent. This is the overarching theme to the entire movie- Susanna is just a spoiled brat that needs to just get over it. Once she is able to “get over it” she is cured.
Georgina Tuskin is supposed to be a pathological liar; however, viewers get a lot of their first insight on the other girls in the hospital from her during Susanna’s first night and most of what she says seems to be factual. For the most part, Georgina seems to be in control of herself at most times–so why is she at the facility? Is she still just soul searching for something more to “get over”?
Characterization leaned hard on mental illness
When the mental illness stopped working, characterization flaws were able to shine through. Some of these girls seemed to have no characterization or personality beyond “being crazy”. Janet’s entire character seemed to revolve around being anorexic and an asshole whenever the movie needed it. Cynthia Crowley is just a lesbian though she does proclaim to be a sociopath at one point. These people do exist; assholes exist in the world just as much as lesbians do. However, these characters should be more than just a quick caricature of what a character potentially could be thrown into the script.
This isn’t the case for every character as the main characters were great, and the casting crew was very picky with whom they were considering for the roles. I just really wished they had slowed down a bit and taken time on the supporting cast as well, because I’m sure a lot of these actresses had more talent than we were able to see on set.
Final Thoughts & Star rating
“Girl, Interrupted” was great at the time it was released for many reasons. It has shown some flaws as it has aged, but not every movie needs to be a flawless, timeless work of art. “Girl, Interrupted” still is entertaining to watch in 2022, and with that I’m going to give this movie a 3/5 star rating.