Sunday, March 20, 2016

Girl, Interrupted

Movie Name: Girl, Interrupted
Year of Release: 1999
Director: James Mangold
Stars: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea Duvall, Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bettis, Jilliam Armenante, Joanna Kerns, Christina Myers
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
James Mangold managed in the mid 90s to make a name for himself with two well reviewed films, "Heavy" and "Copland". "Girl, Interrupted" was his first big studio assignment, a project that had been curated and developed by its star, actress Winona Ryder (one of the producers). The film is an adaptation of the memoir by Susanna Kaysen, and follows her story in the late 60s. Susanna, following a suicide attempt, finds herself a patient at Claymoore Hospital (in Massachussets). While there she's diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder and her stay is extended for 18 months. While at the institute she slowly becomes acquainted with the vast menagerie of patients who have been there for a while, namely Lisa Rowe (the edgy, ex-junkie who never sleeps), Polly Clark (who set herself on fire), Daisy Randone (who only comes to the Hospital seasonally) and many others. Eventually Susanna and Lisa break out of the Hospital, and take refuge with Daisy, which sets in motion a dramatic series of events.
"Girl, Interrupted" is a film that tries to revisit the spirit and to a certain extent, style, that Milos Forman brought to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". The story potentiates the angst of the generation of the 60s, who were dealing with the dread of war, of using drugs, and coming to terms with their own young lives in the midst of turmoil. Unlike "Cuckoo's Nest" though, where there's a realistic sense of joy but also fear and doom, "Girl, Interrupted" feels like a tamer and docile version of what the reality captured in that film was about. The only real spark of menace comes from Angelina Jolie's Lisa - she creates a character who is all intent on watching the whole world burn, with her lighting the match and jumping in for fun. It's a character that has an energy that the rest of the film tries to keep up with, without much success. Winona Ryder composes her main character with restraint, but sadly it doesn't register much. Both Brittany Murphy and Elisabeth Moss create good characters also. An uneven film featuring some really good performances.