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Girl Interrupted (1999)

Directed by James Mangold Book by Susanna Kaysen Screenplay by James Mangold, Lisa Loomer & Anna Hamilton Phelan

  Certainly nobody can predict any hardships one might endure or do anything for that same manner to have them affect in a particular way. It is up to that individual person and how they have perceived life up until that point to deal accordingly or discover an outlet in which they are able to cope in ways they see fit. When you are a teenager it may seem as though nothing can truly be worse than what you are currently enduring. What you may not realize however, is that it will get worse. You will have moments that tear you down and strip your soul for all to see; you will encounter plenty of willing people, who know not what you are or what strength you actually possess who will feel as though they are more entitled for whatever reason. As though they would gladly cast the first stone without first realizing that no person is incapable of feeling the same way. I mean, can you really say that you’ve never felt pain, loneliness or any type of hindrance at one point or another with no seemingly way out? At least those who are aware can embrace their situation learning from it. I’d rather that to remain in the dark my entire life about what has occurred and how it has brought me to where I ended up.

  Girl Interrupted follows the story of Susanna Kaysen and how she had been referred to a mental hospital after spending not even a whole hour with a therapist whose idea sounded more as though he’d rather pass her along than attempting to help her himself. I have yet, unfortunately, to read this book although I don’t deem it a necessity in being able to feel a connection to those in the movie of which Kaysen was an associate producer on. Having stated being known for anxiety attacks in her younger life and in fact checking into a hospital at the age of 20 Kaysen is played by Winona Ryder. Ryder had gone to the producers early on, making them aware that she had truly wanted the role. Not even being sure the book could be adapted in the right manner, she said that she at least had to try.

  First taken to a hospital a couple of days after chasing an entire bottle of aspirin with a bottle of vodka it seems Susanna’s reality is repeatedly altered with visions and voices from the past unable to escape her haunting memories. She’s taken to Claymoore Psychiatric Hospital, which was actually shot at an active mental hospital, where she signs paperwork stating it being a personal choice to remain in her current location and that she has official put her care in their hands. She’s taken to the south bell ward where she will be residing, being shown around where she first encounters Polly (Elisabeth Moss) who is horribly scarred all over. Continuing on with her tour it seems she will be rooming with Georgina (Clea DuVall) who has an obvious fascination with the Wizard of Oz with no immediate symptoms being imminent. Disdain crossing Georgina’s face as she peeks outside to see the nurses bringing in Lisa (Angelina Jolie) who upon having her handcuffs taken off notices an unknown face as she races towards the girls room, blocking the door and demanding to know where Jamie is to a very confused Susanna. It seems Lisa had been gone for the past 2 weeks and her friend, being saddened by the events had taken her own life.

  This movie was able to braid Susanna’s past with that of her present in a manner not being able to recall having seen executed as nicely as other films. To do a “simple” review by detailing action after action would almost pale in comparison to how it was actually displayed. While you learn about Susanna piece by piece in her therapy sessions it goes even further to show you how exactly reality is occurring and affecting her due to her constant blundering perceptions. Having constant thoughts of Toby (Jared Leto) it seems she hasn’t been able to find anybody who has understood her fully with outlook so not bright either.

  Spending a vast amount of time in the recreation room writing, she overhears a birth date called for the draft as she recalls Toby who is a former lover having that exact birth date. Coming face to face with Lisa for the first time who was put in solitude after her stunt upon returning; she inquires whether Susanna has seen the therapist Melvin (Jeffrey Tambor) as it seems having spoken too soon only a half hour away from her first session. Speaking in terms of rather leaving, as not being as crazy as every other person she seems to encounter around her. Later in group therapy with her parents she learns of what is referred to as Borderline Personality Disorder and explains to Melvin that the hastiness of her parents wanting her home is due to the image they try to withhold with their peers and the thought of their little girl disrupting that attempted perfected image being tarnishing enough.

  Susanna quickly develops a friendship with Lisa who brings her into her world almost instantly having forgotten about being so upset Jamie was gone as the girls initiate a typical ritual down into the basement (how Lisa typically escapes) where a bowling alley is set up. They end their adventure in Dr. Wicks office where they take it upon them-self to learn more about each’s condition through the doctor’s eyes and files. The relationship between the girls being that of mostly mixed emotions. They seem to fear Lisa, not only due to her idiosyncratic tendencies but how she certainly seems to hold a power that other girls do not possess. She sees her surroundings as being just that; no need to give in to what those at the hospital want her to be, she just wants to be what she knows. Jolie gave an incredible performance, embracing the abnormality of which seems to fit with her role as Lisa. Angela Bettis (Janet) and Jillian Armenante (Cynthia) help round out the small group that we view for the majority of the second half along with Moss and DuVall. Brittany Murphy plays Daisy who doesn’t partake in the festivals of Lisa’s bidding but they do pan off to follow her storyline a bit further when Lisa and Susanna venture off, making their escape from the hospital having rippling effects.

  There are as well plenty of comical moments between the girls, the most memorable having occurred when the staff decided to take the girls to an ice cream shop. In the beginning of the film during a flashback we are taken to a party for her dad’s birthday party where we witness an incident between a colleague of Susanna’s fathers and herself as he attempts to sneak into her room, with his wife just a flight of stairs away. One of the symptoms being that she indulges in casual sex, promiscuous being the word most often used, though Susanna doesn’t see it that way. I digress, at the ice cream shop they encounter the colleagues wife as she starts to give her a piece of her mind, Lisa interjecting, warning not to point her finger at a crazy person.

  The relationship of Lisa and Susanna’s being that of each other counterparts turning into a most of heart-wrenching tales created between any of the other characters. At first being people who connected through them following on their every own impulses had in life; they partook in an acute preoccupation in living in what they believed to be their true self whether others liked or not. Lisa’s character was captivating because she feared nothing..but the truth, which she finally does get at the end. Susanna balanced well with Lisa because she was the one willing to follow her, giving her the meaning she needed to feel alive. Susanna only begins to get to the bottom of her “condition” once Lisa ran off to Florida and when she began having consistent sessions with Dr. Sonia Wick (Vanessa Redgrave). Redgrave commands a similar attention to the same extent that Piper Laurie and Jessica Lange do. Each of these ladies only eminent exquisiteness and are far superior in their abilities of acting that should certainly be expected from others.                                                  

 I digress, Dr. Wick takes note of the fact that Susanna likes to write and suggest writing out the way she feels instead of letting it weigh her down. Of which Susanna is able to come to the realization of having used Lisa as a crutch, afraid to be secluded once again if to let go.Her final test of confronting Lisa to see if she in fact had changed enabled her to leave knowing that the experiences she had endured, whether good or bad, had helped her and would remain with her eternally. An overall accomplished and moving tale of one woman’s self discovery of who she actually is, interrupted or not.