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GIRL, INTERRUPTED

SYNOPSIS:
In 1967, emotionally confused 17 year old Susanna Kaysen is voluntarily committed to Claymoore psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. At the hospital, Susanna encounters other young women suffering mental disorders, including the physically scarred Polly (Elisabeth Moss), spoilt "Daddy's Girl" Daisy (Brittany Murphy), compulsive liar Georgina (Clea Duvall) and Lisa (Angelina Jolie), a charismatic sociopath with whom Susanna forms a close bond. Through therapy and her experiences with fellow patients Susanna gradually comes to understand the nature of her condition and determines to overcome it.

"My colleagues (below) are a tad too tough on this film, I feel, but I understand their reservations. Let me offer a different view: my interest in and enjoyment of this film is generated neither by the medical aspects of mental illness, nor by the structure of the film's story telling. Never mind the 'thin line between crazy and normal' or the historic questions about the era and its ignorance on the subject. Nor do I mind the way the film is assembled, because the focus is on its people. To me, Girl, Interrupted is a story that has a million versions; it is a sad but everyday story. It is the uniqueness of the individuals and the effective interpretation of them by the cast that provides the cinematic enjoyment for me. It is they who seduce me into the world of Claymoore in the 1960s, and the wider world, too. It is Winona Ryder's engaging performance that - with her narration - takes us inside 17 year old Susanna Kaysen credibly - and with compassion. She also provides the foil for Angelina Jolie's complex and ultimately tragic sociopath, a full-strength characterisation certain to be recognised in awards. The film also offers a variety of complex mood settings inside Claymoore, which resonate profoundly; and at times, the reality of the circumstances stings with the pain of recognition. Above all, through its searing character studies, Girl, Interrupted provides genuine and gripping insights into aspects of humanity which are revealing, extraordinary and sometimes very funny."
Andrew L. Urban

"While deserving credit for its non-hysterical approach to the subject of mental illness, director James Mangold's adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's memoir suffers from uneven handling which makes it run hot and cold. Girl, Interrupted is at its best when dealing with Susanna's bourgeoise family life, medical attitudes of the day and what anyone's idea of "normal" is anyway during those heady times, all of which play a part in contributing to her unhappy state. Unfortunately these elements play too scant a role in the drama and we're left with a meandering series of vignettes as Susanna bonds with the other girls, not much of which really help answer the basic questions of why she's there and how she might recover. Winona Ryder does a creditable job as Susanna and Angelina Jolie alternates between impressive believability and unabashed scenery-chewing as the disturbed Lisa; the latter contributing to impressions elsewhere that we're watching an actor's workshop rather than finding out much about mental illness. Whoopie Goldberg's always good to have around, even if it's essaying the standard issue role of "kindly nurse who seems to have better advice than the professional therapists"; ditto Vanessa Redgrave who only shows up for three brief scenes as Dr Wick, the hospital's head psychiatrist. Although it has earnest qualities, Girl, Interrupted is overlong at 127 minutes and rather disappointing because its most fascinating elements are pushed into the background and it feels like we're only getting half the story."
Richard Kuipers

"According to those who have read it, Susanna Kaysen's 1993 bestselling memoir chronicling the time she spent at a mental hospital in the late sixties was unfilmable due largely to the fact that instead of a linear narrative the book derived its power from the potent assemblage of a chronologically incohesive series of thoughts, ideas and impressions. Unfortunately, in an earnest attempt to get over this problem and give the material some cinematic structure, writers Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan and director James Mangold have sought refuge in the same stereotypical images other films of a similiar genre have long nurtured. With that kind of handicap, the film's only pluses can be found in the two central performances. As Kaysen, a suitably reticent Winona Ryder is quite compelling, and she is matched all the way by Angelina Jolie in a showy role which immediately brings to mind Nicholson's star turn in the classic One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. The rest of the cast, though entirely competent, occupies stock characters. At best, a respectable failure."
Leo Cameron

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

TRAILER

GIRL, INTERRUPTED (MA)
(US)

CAST: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Jared Leto, Whoopi Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave

PRODUCERS: Carol Bodie, Georgia Kacandes, Susanna Kaysen, Cathy Konrad, Douglas Wick

DIRECTOR: James Mangold

SCRIPT: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan (screenplay) Susanna Kaysen (book),

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jack N. Green

EDITOR: Kevin Tent

MUSIC: Mychael Danna

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Hoover

RUNNING TIME: 127 mins

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 20, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: August 9, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Home Entertainment







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