Wild Young Minds: Girl, Interrupted

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Girl, Interrupted

''Have you ever confused a dream with life? Or stolen something when you have the cash? Have you ever been blue? Or thought your train was moving while sitting still? Maybe I was just crazy. Maybe it was the '60's. Or maybe I was just a girl... interrupted.''
The other night I saw 'Girl, Interrupted', a penetrating but passionate film, that really moved me, and almost made me cry (and that's quite an achievement!). Influenced by the renowned cast, including Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave, of whom I've seen only few films. 'Girl, Interrupted' has a great story (based on Susanna Kaysen's memoir), brilliant actors and sharp dialogues. 
I'll keep my description of the film short this time, so I can focus on everything that was brilliant about this film. 'Girl, Interrupted' is the story of Susanna Kaysen, who is 18-year old in 1967 and suffers from psychological problems. She is taken into a mental institution after taking an overdose of aspirine. She denies the accusation of trying to commit suicide and wants to continue living to become a writer. 

In Claymoore Hospital, she meets all kinds of people. Nice nurses, severe nurses (Whoopi Goldberg is both), weird psychiatrists, extremely talented psychiatrists and many, many crazy girls. Among them are Polly (Elisabeth Moss, knowns as Peggy on Mad Men), Georgina (Clea DuVall), Daisy (Britanny Murphy) and Janet (Angela Bettis). They all have different diseases, from anorexia to being a pathological liar. But Lisa (Angelina Jolie) is the most outstanding of them all. She's been in the hospital for 8 years already and is a sociopath. She's manipulative, being extremely nice one time and a direct, coldhearted bitch the other time. 
Susanna is mostly integrated by Lisa. Though they have a troubled beginning (Susanna has taken the place of Lisa's best friend, who recently killed herself), they become friends soon. Lisa influences Susanna to rebel against therapy, by trading her medicins with other patients and not taking the ones she need. Susanna is diagnosed borderline by the way, just as having a sexual problem, since she had sex with the husband of a friend of her mother's, her boyfriend and a male nurse in the hospital. 
A lot of considerable things happen, but one of the most important ones is when Susanna and Lisa escape the hospital and take a visit to Daisy, who has been released from the hospital a couple of weeks before. She was a bulimic, having a sexual relationship with her father. Though it seems she lives the perfect life, in a civil house, with flowers everywhere. Lisa confronts her with her real problems and eventually Daisy kills herself. Lisa runs but Susanna is devastated and returns to the hospital. She confirms herself to the system and wants to leave as soon as possible. Things go well, until Lisa returns. That's when reality shows itself, learning us not only a lot about the troubled women, but also about life, the principles of freedom, the expectations of society and confrontation with your own mind. 
Firstly, I'd like to comment on the actors. I'd never seen Winona Ryder in action, but she's perfect for this role. She's fragile, vulnerable yet strong and intelligent. Whoopi Goldberg is heartbreaking as the authoritarian yet caring nurse. The other girls from the group do a good job as well. It's not easy playing lunatics but they are constantly believable. Most credits go to Angelina Jolie, though. I'd only seen her in 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' and was never a big fan of her (for stealing Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston!) but what a performance. In the beginning she played the villain, speaking directly and to the point but winning over everyone at the hospital. The most touching parts are where she's vulnerable though. In the end, we see her real face, her insecurities and her troubles. This touched my very soul, dare I say! :) Furthermore, Lisa is extremely skinny, has dry blonde hair and scars and bruises everywhere. And I'm not even mentioning the times when she screams and acts like a lunatic. But Angelina Jolie is always beautiful, even when you take this in consideration.

I haven't read the book yet, but most of the time books are better than movie adaptations, so this book must be amazing, since the film already has a great story with sharp dialogues and interesting turns. Even if you're not really interested in psychological issues (may sound weird to say that I am, but I do think it is very interesting, how the mind works), 'Girl, Interrupted' is a great film. It's never long-winded, boring or cliché. No, it's heartbreaking, fascinating and entertaining the entire time. 

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