Girl Interrupted (1999)

When I first arrived at Uni, a group of people in my Block, one of whom was a Psychology student, wanted to watch a film that looked at mental illness. We all sat down and started the film and, whilst I wasn’t expecting The Seventh Seal or anything, I was really, really, really pissed off. This is Girl Interrupted.

In 1967, 18 year old Susanne Kayson (Winona Ryder) checks herself into a metal hospital after taking an overdose of painkillers brought on by years of acting out. While there she befriends many of the patients including the enchantingly sociopath, Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie). During her time in the hospital, Kayson learns to come to terms with her illness while befriending Rowe and attempting to rebuild her relationship with her family.

I’m not gonna beat around the bush here guys, I really fucking hate this movie. Not only are  the majority of main characters enormously unlikeable but the acting is poor, the plot is dull and the attitude to mental illness is beyond insulting. Let’s start from the beginning; Winona Ryder is a bad actress; her delivery is just whiney and ungodly annoying, I’m sorry if you like her but dear God, I can’t stand her. Angelina Jolie isn’t awful or anything but there are far better and more likeable actresses you could’ve gotten for the part. The only performances that I did enjoy were Whoopi Goldberg’s and Vanessa Redgrave’s and only then because I think it’s impossible to dislike Whoopi Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave is just a powerhouse actress.

Regardless of the quality of the acting, these characters are just ungodly unlikable. There’s a scene in a restaurant where the patients in the hospital go out for ice cream and they bump into the wife of one of the men Ryder’s character slept with. Naturally, the wife is angry and Ryder just sort of awkwardly sits there, but then Jolie’s character pipes up and tells the wife that if her husband was really happy with her then she wouldn’t be screwing around; which of course all the mental patients find fucking hilarious. What the fuck!? This woman’s marriage has collapsed because of Winona Ryder and not only does she not apologize, not only does Jolie make a fucking joke, not only do all the characters laugh at this, but we are supposed to identify with the mental patients reaction; we’re supposed to find this funny. It’s just abhorrently mean spirited. Another perfect example of this is when Jolie and Ryder run away and stay at a former patients house who still has difficulties, is close with her father and cuts herself. Jolie then mocks her about her self-harm injuries and heavily implies that the character’s relationship with her father is incestuous and, wouldn’t you know it, the girl hangs herself. Jolie’s character has actually pushed someone to suicide and we’re still supposed to stand by her and like her.Fuck. You. This is a terrible fucking character and the fact that Ryder still hangs out with her is a huge condemnation of her character; sure she gets a semi-redemption/analysis of her behaviour but it hardly makes up for practically killing a girl.

By far the worst thing about this film is the unlikable characters but the film also portrays mental illness is a disgusting way. It’s either far too simple or insultingly mean-spirited. The characters are all in the serious category when it comes to a diagnosis but with no real analysis as to why they are like this or how they cope. There are other scenes where everything they do just seems spiteful; it’s almost disgusting in that respect.

This film is so mean-spirited, insulting and annoying that I actually despise it. It isn’t just another film that I hate, it may just be one of my most loathed movies; top 5 at least. It makes me genuinely angry in ways that few other films have ever done, I hate it, the only redeeming feature are the couple of decent performances and the fact that it probably has some half-decent things to say about mental illness, the only problem is carving through the shit to reach it. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.



2 thoughts on “Girl Interrupted (1999)

  1. Sounds like one of those movies you either love or hate. By your account, it seems this is a very accurate portrait of the kinds of people it is about. I must watch it soon.


    1. I guess you could argue that the characters either don’t fully understand the pain and mean-spiritedness of what they’re doing but even so, this is not how everybody with depression or bipolar or even sociopathy acts, regardless of how severe it is. I’d actually recommend you watch it because a lot of people do seem to like it, I hated it but every movie deserves a fresh chance with every new person. If you like it then great, but personally I just loathed it.


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