Movie Review: Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Starring: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie and Whoopi Goldberg

Directed by: James Mangold

The story which is based on the memoirs of Susanna Kaysen and her account from her eighteen month stay inside a mental institution during the sixties.

Girl, Interrupted boasts an incredibly talented young cast which produce a wonderfully complete performance who are supported by a handful of experienced actors such as Whoopi Goldberg and Kurtwood Smith.

Winona Ryder produces one of the performances of her career as Susanna Kaysen, a troubled teenager who is depressed and directionless after graduating high school. She has difficulty understanding and accepting her disorder for some time and Winona portrays the character wonderfully throughout. She’s supported by Angelina Jolie who plays Lisa, a somewhat veteran of the mental institution who has been there for eight years or so. Lisa is a little psychotic and extraordinarily angry and is usually the person who loads the gun but then sits back and watches others fire it as she watches the chaos shes created unfold. Jolie rightfully won the Academy Award for this performance, a true standout from a very strong collective performance by the cast. Clea DuVall and Brittany Murphy were also great, although they had limited screen time they were both very effective in their supporting roles.

One of the main criticisms of this movie online is that it strays a little too far away from the memoirs of Susanna Kaysen but as I haven’t read the book and also had no idea this was based upon true events until after watching the movie my main problem was the run time. Lasting a little over two hours I felt Girl, Interrupted could’ve been condensed down slightly as some moments of the movie felt a little unnecessary and over extended. I feel the movie wouldn’t have suffered in quality if fifteen to twenty minutes were shaved off.

While this movie wasn’t a great movie like many suggest, it certainly is worth watching for the performances of Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie alone. The dark nature of the drama is extremely relatable to a lot of people who have gone through or have family who have gone through similar ordeals. Check it out if you haven’t already, you shouldn’t be disappointed!


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