Projections - Movie Reviews

Girl, Interrupted

In a film with a limited script that is based on the real life situations of Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) two young actresses make bland brilliant.

The film Chronicles Kaysen's two years at Claymoore, an institution from the sixties, where she was sent because her behavior was not consistent with her parents idea of what a proper young woman should be.  At the institution she interacts with other adolescent women who are in far greater need of psychological help than she is.

Unlike One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, real life does not produce dramatic results.  Reality places a limit, a mask or a filter on the story.  We are not enlightened as to what are the causes of their life on the edge but we see the results.  Lisa (Angelina Jolie - The Bone Collector) a young woman who bullies and leads her fellow inmates, admits she has no filters on her emotions, they are in control of her actions.  She is frightening and frightened and Jolie makes her the center of attention at the institution and in the film.  She uses puppets, pens, noise and brutal honesty to demand loyalty and the leadership role in the wing.  She is not attractive or pleasant, she is however effective at ruling the roost.

In the small group of girls in Kaysen's wing of the hospital there are serious problems.  Daisy (Brittany Murphy - Clueless) wears a Jackie Kennedy hair style, hides roasted chicken under her bed and is a victim of sexual abuse.  Polly (Elisabeth Moss - Mumford) doused her face with gasoline and set it afire to rid herself of a rash caused by her dog because her mother insisted on taking the dog away from her.  Georgina (Clea Duvall - The Astronaut's Wife) is not capable of telling the truth and loves The Wizard of Oz.

We see Academy Award winners Whoopie Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave attempt to change the interrupted girl's life within the confines and structure of sixties institutions.  It is Dr. Melvin (Jeffrey Tambor - Meet Joe Black) who diagnoses Susanna with Borderline Personality Disorder, what ever that is; she is given a clean bill of health having been cured of the ailment after two years of institutional treatment.

Director James Mangold filters in Brill Cream TV commercials and vintage cars to set the period.  He allows us inside the actions of the young women so we can enjoy their insults, inside jokes and ability to maneuver the hapless staff.  The affinity for young women who watch the film will be significant.

We have see the results of the old institutions like Claymoore Hospital.  Whoopie Goldberg refers to the public institutions in Massachusetts, where the events occurred, as being far more severe than the private Claymoore.  Few travel through the system and emerge as successfully as Susanna.  The atmosphere does not heal, it cripples.

The film will have significant appeal to young women who have experienced depression.  Learning from Susanna that they are not alone and can get through it is a comforting and valued lesson.

As Susanna leaves Claymoore we have experienced little that is new, but we know the strength of the performances are harbingers of future star power.

Girl, Interrupted

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