Director: James Mangold
Cast: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg, Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Clea DuVall, Vanessa Redgrave, Jared Leto, Jeffery Tambor
Released: December 21, 1999
Viewed in theaters: January 22, 2000
Best Supporting Actress - Angelina Jolie (won)
This movie is based on the memoir of the same name written by Susanna Kaysen (portrayed by Winona Ryder) who wrote about her time (a year and a half) at a psychiatrist ward called Claymoore in the late '60s. This is a book I've always meant to read because I like the movie, but I can never find it.
Right after high school, Susanna is sent to Claymoore. Her parents are worried about her because she is depressed and has no desire to go to college. When her counselor asks her what she's going to do, she tells her that she wants to write. She sleeps with a professor who is married and a guy she met at a party (Jared Leto) so she is deemed "promiscuous". After trying to kill herself by taking an entire bottle of aspirin and chasing it down with a bottle of vokda (she says she had a headache), she is sent to the ward that helps young women with mental problems.
There's Polly, a schizophrenic who has half of her face badly burned. She is played by Elisabeth Moss who of course went on to be in Mad Men, but I've never seen that show, so to me, she will always be Zoe Bartlett from The West Wing. She is nicknamed "Torch" by AJ's character. It's been about ten years since I last saw this movie and I remembered she had a nickname, but I could have sworn it was "Flame". Close enough! Also, I'm not sure if she calls her this because Polly has red hair or because her face has been badly burned. Hopefully not because of the latter because that would be messed up, but with Lisa you never know!
Susanna's roommate is Georgina (played by Clea DuVall...okay, I always thought her name was pronounced "Clee-ah", but apparently it's "Clay-ah"?) who is a pathological liar. She tells Susanna this after she has told her how Polly burned her face. Her account is that Polly had a dog she was allergic to and got a big rash on her face and put some ointment on her face, then lit a match. So how did Polly really burn her face? It's never brought up.
Sociopath Lisa is played by Angelina Jolie for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. You may remember that being the ceremony where she wore a vial of Billy Bob Thorton's blood (remember when they were married? How long ago that seems!) and made out with her brother. Sometimes I miss the crazy AJ. Did you know that when you look at Angelina's IMDb page, this movie isn't even featured as one of her "known for" titles? I'm sorry, but what kind of bull**** is that? When I think of Angelina Jolie in terms of film roles, Girl, Interrupted is ALWAYS the first movie I think of! It's probably a combination of several things: it was the first movie I saw AJ in, she has a very memorable role, and for a long time it was the only thing I liked her in. Oh, and she did win the Oscar so you think that would have edged out, say, Salt to make the cut! Anyway! I digress! Let's get back to the review of the movie. Lisa has been at Claymoore for eight years and is the ringleader of the five or so girls who have their own little clique. (This includes Polly and Susanna as well as a anorexic girl named Janet and a mentally disturbed lesbian named Cynthia). She has a captivating, charming personality and draws Susanna into her circle of madness. She is also a bully and manipulative and gets a thrill out of taunting those she does not like. I loved Jolie's performance, but I really hated Lisa. She is an awful person. But I could see how the other girls were drawn to her.
The most interesting, disturbing, and tragic character is Daisy. She is played by Brittany Murphy and I'm gong to say it: I think this was her best role. Now I didn't say most iconic or popular, because that would be Clueless, but I do think this is her best acting. If anyone needs a psych ward, it's her. (I mean, they all need one...but she really needs one). And yet, for some reason, she is released early. She has this weird eating disorder where the only thing she will eat is rotisserie chickens from her father's deli and she keeps the eaten carcasses under her bed. She has a private room because she prefers to keep to herself, oh, and did I mention the most disturbing thing of all: her father has sex with her. :::shudder::: So why she is released, I wasn't really sure. But we'll get back to her later.
Lisa invites Susanna into her little circle. She encourages her to fake take her medication, talk back to the staff (which includes Whoopi Goldberg as Nurse Valerie and Vanessa Redgrave and Jeffrey Tambor as psychiatrists), and sneak out with her and the other girls where they go under the building where there is an old bowling lane. This place has the worst security I have ever seen. They do checks every night, but they always do it at the same time, so of course the girls have beat the system because they just stay in the rooms until the nurses have made sure they're in there, THEN they sneak out. Well, duh, if they had their checks sporadically every night, then they wouldn't know when to sneak out.
After Susanna and Lisa get in trouble for stealing a guitar from the music room and singing "Downtown" to an upset Polly (this must have been my fourth or fifth time seeing the movie and this was the first time I caught that "Downtown" is played in the car radio on Susanna's drive to Claymoore! I had oddly never noticed that before). I had actually never heard of that song until I saw this movie and I just love it. Music is the one thing that makes her happy and it works, except when the male orderly comes over to shut them up so they don't wake anybody up, Susanna and the orderly end up kissing (she's taking her "promiscuous" diagnosis to heart!) and are found sleeping with their arms around each other and Nurse Valerie catches them in the morning and writes her up.
This prompts Susanna and Lisa to decide to run away to Disney World which is opening soon where Lisa will be their new Cinderella and Susanna will be Snow White (well, she does have the right haircut for it!) They are able to walk right out the doors after their checks (because they know they are at the same time every night!) I'm sure the doors are locked from the outside, but what kind of place that is home to many mentally unstable people don't lock their docks from the inside? There aren't even any night nurses monitoring the halls! As you can imagine, this makes it quite easy for the girls to escape. Lisa has acquired the address to Daisy's new apartment her father bought for her where she now resides with her gray cat, Ruby.
There has never been any love lost between Lisa and Daisy and Daisy only lets them in because she thinks it's only Susanna who tells her she has Valium. It is clear Daisy hasn't gotten better because the only thing she has in her fridge is mayonnaise and rotisserie chickens and she is cutting herself. Lisa cruelly taunts her about her dad molesting her and the fact that Daisy likes it. Susanna pleads Lisa to stop, but being cruel to Daisy makes Lisa feel superior.
In the morning, when Susanna comes back with breakfast, Lisa tells her that Daisy hasn't come down yet and the same song has been playing over and over on a loop. The song is "The End of the World" by Skeeter Davis and because of the lyrics; the fact that Daisy hasn't come down yet; and Daisy's all-around well-being; Susanna, as well as the audience, I'm sure, is a little bit concerned. Not finding Daisy in her room, Susanna fears the worst when she creeps down the hall to the bathroom with the door closed. She opens it to find that Daisy has hung herself. After Susanna starts shrieking and crying, Lisa comes up and calls Daisy an idiot and checks to see if she has any money on her. Susanna says she's going to call an ambulance and Lisa says she should call a hearse. Very little concern that her comments from the night before prompted Daisy to kill herself! I am surprised that she didn't comment that Daisy had a tub after all because the night before she asked if there was a bathtub upstairs and Daisy said no.
Susanna is so distraught by this that she doesn't want to go anywhere with Lisa anymore and goes back to Claymoore. Lisa is also brought back a few days later, although against her will. Susanna has a heart to heart with Nurse Valerie who she was quite awful to before she ran away and starts to make progress with her treatments and is eventually released.
The soundtrack to this movie is great; lots of '60 favorites. I especially love the song, "The Weight."
Here's a Cinematic Sara first for you: you know how at the Oscars the big 8 includes Best Picture, Best Director, the four acting categories, and the two writing categories? Well, I reviewed all the movies that won those awards at the 2000 Oscars for the movies that came out in 1999. They include American Beauty (for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay - that one knocked out half of them!); The Cider House Rules (for Best Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay); Boys Don't Cry (for Best Actress); and now I can add Girl, Interrupted (for Best Supporting Actress) to that list!