Girl Interrupted is based on a memoir written by Susana Kaysen, on a difficult time in her life that led her into a mental institution for 2 years. Winona Ryder plays Susana and Angelina Jolie is her confident sociopath buddy on the inside, Lisa. What makes this movie so interesting, even now, is how it exposes the blurred lines between what is considered to be “normal” and what is insane.
As always, the book gets the true meaning of this story across better then the movie. From first sight, Susana seems like a spoiled brat that goes through a a crisis in college, where she doesn’t care about anything anymore, and begins behaving carelessly, just to distract her from the responsibilities of being an adult, landing her in a mental institution. Her suicide attempt with aspirin is the last straw. But in the book, her inner monologue shows that she is physically battling with a grasp on reality. Which is important to know.
Susanas stay at the mental institution introduces her to a hand full of characters that make you question if the system is properly treating them and if some patients actually belong there. Starting with Susana, who is considered one of the ‘sanest’.
It is safe to assume that whenever Angelina Jolie dyes her hair blonde, she is ultimately a villain. (It’s just the way it is) And why not have Angelina Jolie play this character, she’s sooooo good at it.
Lisa is a sociopath that follows a cycle of breaking out of the institution and being dragged back, but you get the impression that she isn’t entirely staying there against her will. She feeds this cycle and in all reality, she may even see the institution as a home. She’s known to taunt and bluntly point out the issues in other patients, often pushing them to their edge.
Daisy is played by Brittany Murphy, she’s an example of how the mental institutions failed back in the 60s. Daisy was quiet and expressed ambitions and goals, such as having her own apartment and having a “normal” life. She had the support of family in the form of a father that was always present. Truly, she had an incestuous relationship with her father that was evident to the patients and somehow seems to slip by the institutions staff. She only ate chicken that her father brought her and kept the carcasses under her bed. She also asked for extra laxatives to rid herself of her chicken timely. if this isn’t a sign that something’s wrong, I don’t know what is.
Nonetheless, the institution releases her into her own apartment. Lisa and Susana pay a visit during an attempt to escape, and because she couldn’t help herself, Lisa tells Daisy about what she knows. Lisa points out that Daisy isn’t any less sane then the rest of them and that her lifestyle with daddy is taking a mental tole on her. Daisy hangs herself the next morning.
This changes everything. Susana begins to participate in treatment and begins to work towards getting better. She can’t relate to Lisa’s detachment from emotion after what happens to Daisy. She refuses to stop feeling. What it all boils down to is the mind. If you suddenly felt detached from the world, how do find your way home? And what is real anyway?
These questions will stack up in your head like old laundry after watching this movie. I could get so deep right now, but I know you’re not ready for it. I’ll spare you.
What did you ask yourself after watching Girl Interrupted?