Girl Interrupted

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers: Douglas Wick, Winona Ryder
  • Writers: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Elisabeth Moss, Travis Fine, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg

Susanna Kaysen (Ryder), 18 years old in April 1967, “voluntarily” (her parents essentially force her to go there, and she is not free to leave until the staff approves her release) checks herself into the fictitious Claymoore Hospital (based on McLean Hospital, the actual institution featured in the memoir), after an overdose of aspirin and her stay extends for over a year.

She befriends fellow patients Polly “Torch” Clark (Elisabeth Moss), a burn victim; Georgina Tuskin (Clea DuVall), a pathological liar; Daisy Randone (Brittany Murphy), a sexually abused girl with an eating disorder and who cuts herself; Janet Webber (Angela Bettis), an anorexic; Cynthia Crowley (Jillian Armenante), whose only disorder seems to be a proclivity to dress like men and is there because her parents don’t want to see her; and others, and forms a small troupe of troubled women in her ward. Susanna is enchanted in particular by Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie), who has been diagnosed as a sociopath (as in the book, it is left to interpretation whether she actually is one). Lisa is a force to be reckoned with: she is magnetic, rebellious, won’t take her medication and verbally abuses the other patients. Lisa befriends Susanna and together they start causing trouble. Lisa encourages Susanna to stop taking her medications and/or trade them with others, and generally resist the influences of therapy (referred to by the patients as “ther-rape-me”).

At the end of the film, Susanna states that by the 1970s, most of her friends were released and some she saw and some never again. But there wasn’t a day “her heart doesn’t find them.”

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