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Girl, Interrupted

Winona Ryder , Angelina Jolie , James Mangold    R (Restricted)   VHS Tape
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)

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Based on Susanna Kaysen's acclaimed journal-memoir, Girl, Interrupted bears inevitable resemblance to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and pale comparison to that earlier classic is impossible to avoid. The mental institution settings of both films guarantee a certain degree of déjà vu and at least one Oscar winner (in this case, Angelina Jolie), since playing a loony is any actor's dream gig. Unfortunately, director James Mangold seems to have misplaced the depth and delicacy of his underrated debut, Heavy, despite a great deal of earnest effort by everyone involved. It's easy to see why Winona Ryder chose to star in (and executive-produce) this nearly worthy adaptation of Kaysen's book, since it's a strong vehicle for female casting and potent drama. Mangold certainly got the former; whether he succeeded with the latter is not so clear.

To be sure, Ryder conveys the confusion and chaos that signified Kaysen's life during nearly 18 months of voluntary institutionalization beginning in 1967. But the film seems too eager to embrace the cliché that the "crazies" of the Claymoore women's ward are saner than the war-torn world outside, and lack of narrative focus gives way to semipredictable character study. Susanna (Ryder) is labeled with "borderline personality disorder," a diagnosis as ambiguous as her own emotions, and while Jolie chews the scenery as the resident bad-girl sociopath, Ryder effectively conveys an odyssey from vulnerable fear to self-awareness and, finally, to healing. The ensemble cast is uniformly superb, making this drama well worthwhile, even as it treads familiar territory. If it ultimately lacks dramatic impact, Girl, Interrupted makes it painfully clear that the boundaries of dysfunction are hazy in a world where everyone's crazy once in a while. --Jeff Shannon


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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pardon The Interruption Feb. 16 2004
Format:DVD
Based on the memior of Susanna Kaysen Girl, Interuppted is a decent drama that, thanks to solid performances is more than just a One Flew Over The Cockoo's Nest rehash.
Actress Winona Ryder stars as Susana, a troubled teenager whose confused attempt at suicide lands her in a mental hospital. Once there, she meets an odd assortment of patients, and hospital saff. One patient named Lisa, (Angelina Jolie), in particular, surprises Susana with her uninhibited demeanor. The pair form a tight bond, but that connection is threatened when Lisa begins to spiral even further out of control. Even as Dr. Melvin Potts (Jeffery Tambor), Dr. Sonia Wick, (Vanessa Redgrave), and Valerie Owens, RN (Whoppi Goldberg) offer both obstacle and assistance to Susana.
Directed by James Mangold, the film is a sobering look at what this period in Susana life was like at the time. While the movie is obviously geared more to a female audience, Jolie and Ryder are so effective here, that my concerns of "chick flick-itis" were really unwarranted. Given the nature of the plot, it's impossible not to compare the film to other movies of this type, but it's really able to stand on its own.
The DVD boasts a solid audio commentary from Mangold. He discusses the filmming process, his approach to the material, and on set tidbits. Mangold also offer comments about a series of deleted scenes that were wisely cut, but stiil ineresting to see nonetheless. You can also hear the film's score on an isolated track if you like. There's also an HBO First Look Special that's the most fluffy extra on the disc and has and everything on it you might expect from something like this. Production notes and the theatrical trailer round out the bonus material.
Not just for the ladies, Girl Interruppted, works because of Jolie, who, along with her turn in the HBO telefilm Gia, proved she can do it all as an actress.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Angelina Jolie plays Lisa, not Daisy June 10 2003
Format:DVD
One otherwise good review incorrectly states that Angelina Jolie plays Daisy in this movie. Jolie plays Lisa, not Daisy. Both Daisy and Lisa are poignant and memorable characters. Jolie deservingly won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. It was Brittany Murphy who plays Daisy, and her more unsung performance is excellent also. Both these characters are doleful and deeply disturbed, but otherwise could hardly be more different. Daisy is obsessed and withdrawn. Lisa is brazen and agressive. It makes indeed a dangerous combination. They are just two of the considerable variety of mental patients that Susannah Kaysen, author of the book of the same name, met during her own stay in the institution. The movie is a vivid story of her trying to sort out her own condition while also dealing with the likes of Lisa and Daisy in their fateful conflicts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivveting Portrait May 12 2003
Format:DVD
This is one of the most poignant and compelling movies in a long time. Angelina Jolie won an oscar for her spectular performance as the movie's title character, the tragic Daisy, a compulsive disturbed mental patient who won't eat anything but chicken from her father's deli. She say's any other food makes her want to puke. Naturally, eating only chicken leaves poor Daisy malnourished and constipated. So a key element in the plot is Daisy's trading drugs to other patients for the highs they want, in exchange for the laxatives Daisy so desperately needs. Night scenes are not shown, but one can only suppose Daisy stumbles around from night blindness. And how she escapes scurvy is quite a mystery. But Daisy's involvement with other patients in their drug exchanges has unwanted side effects. One patient she becomes entangled with is Lisa, institutionalized for anti-social behavior. Lisa is brutal and unscrupulous and Daisy becomes one of the patients that Lisa cruelly taunts. Lisa insinuates that Daisy's father abuses her, a claim not otherwise implied. But Daisy, guilt-ridden over something, is easily brought down by the suggestions. As a narrator and also participant in the story, Susannah, based on the author of the book that inspired the story, is played by Winona Ryder. Despite Susannah's compassionate attempts to intervene on Daisy's behalf, Lisa's taunts precipitate tragedy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Amusing as it is poignant July 25 2002
Format:DVD
Here's a look inside a mental hospital that will amply entertain while it communicates a heart-rending angst just as compellingly. Winona Ryder plays Susanna Kaysen, an inpatient in a true-life story who told her experiences in the institution in a book of the same title. Her own story is poignant but ever rivaled by that of other fellow patients. One is Georgina, Susannah's sort-of happy-go-quirky roommate. Then there's Daisy, a sad and somber patient whose story will break your heart. And there's long-time resident Polly, sweet and loveable but still a prisoner to her childhood trauma in which she set herself on fire. But stealing the show is Lisa, played by Angelina Jolie, possibly the most spellbinding of less-than-heroic movie characters since Hannibal Lecter. It is impossible not to relate to Lisa and even sympathize with her somewhat, even though she is menacing and can be cruel. She traumatizes other patients, for example taunting poor Polly and calling her "torch". Lisa is the escape artist of the group and bonds with Susannah in surprising ways. There's indeed some heavy stuff here. But it's also highly watchable with humanity and sometimes humor shining through the tragedy.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Very good acting!
Published 1 month ago by Francine
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond crazy
The young and beautiful ladies, Winona and Angelina. Wow! Couple of great woman preformed such a touching story based on true events. Hats off to you, ladies.
Published 9 months ago by Ange Caldwell
5.0 out of 5 stars ANGELINA AT HER BEST
"Girl Interrupted" is probably the best acting job Angelina Joie has ever played. She was great in "Gina" but somehow more evil and certainly psychologically off... Read more
Published 13 months ago by S. K. THORNE
4.0 out of 5 stars Love the acting
Angelina Jolie is so great as the psychopathic blond. Unbelieveable! I had to buy the movie to watch her again.
Published 16 months ago by Gwendolyn
5.0 out of 5 stars much more
Wynona Ryder has always been one of my all time favs. People always say this is a chick flick but it's much more than that. Read more
Published on May 29 2008 by Horror Girl 79
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing, emotionally powerful, and unforgettable
What can you say, really? Girl, Interrupted is just a magnificent motion picture boasting some awe-inspiring performances by Winona Rider, the incomparable Angelina Jolie (who... Read more
Published on July 9 2006 by Daniel Jolley
4.0 out of 5 stars One Flew over the Girl
Of course any movie made about people in a psychiatric ward will resemble the classic 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by M. Buisman
5.0 out of 5 stars It gives you a new look on how normal some people are.
This is one of the most brilliant movies. The acting is superb, and the story grabs you. Angelina Jolie and Wynona Ryder do really good performances. Read more
Published on June 7 2004 by Ryne Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
Girl Interrupted was on last tonight. You know when the shoplifter reads about BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER? What a revelation! Read more
Published on April 30 2004 by Stephen F. Sharp
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambivalent Little Women
This drama focuses the coming-of-age story of Susana (Winona Ryder), a young girl who`s in the last years of adolescence and still doesn`t know what to do in the future. Read more
Published on April 23 2004 by gonn1000
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