Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Back in the late 1990s, when it was announced that Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir Girl, Interrupted would be turned into a movie, many actresses were reportedly fighting to join the cast that included a number of strong female leads.

In the end, Winona Ryder was chosen to play Susanna Kaysen, a teenage girl who overdoses on aspirin and is admitted to psychiatric hospital. While in the 1960s institution, she meets and befriends many of the other patients, including sociopath Lisa (Angelina Jolie) and schizophrenic Polly (Elisabeth Moss), and nurses including Valerie (Whoopi Goldberg).

It is difficult to believe that at the release of Girl, Interrupted Angeline Jolie was barely starting in her acting career. This was a time before Tomb Raider, and even further before Changeling and Mr and Mrs Smith. Rather, Jolie had a handful of acting credits and one notable film (Gia). So, it is perhaps with huge credit that she was picked to handle such a complex character as Lisa.

And it is Lisa who really keeps Girl, Interrupted moving forward, earning Jolie a well deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actress - her only Academy Award to date.

Susanna, while the protagonist and perhaps more together mentally, spends most of the film going with the flow, at one moment grateful for the support of her roommate and then the next swept up in Lisa's chaotic whirlwind of destruction, never really offering much to the story other than a set of eyes to view it through.

The final act is the explosive conclusion that the film's initial promise deserves, but overall Girl, Interrupted can't shy away from the fact that not a lot really happens over the course of its runtime. 

Each of the girls are in the institution through no fault of their own, and their personalities are intrinsically linked to their conditions, so it is difficult to follow exactly what their redemption arcs are.

Perfectly watchable, especially for Jolie's performance, but by no means a must-see.

3 stars