The story of Girl, Interrupted is not anything particularly astounding;
since it is apparently a straightforward account of actual events, it lacks
the flash of a Hollywood screenplay. But that's a good thing. Susanna,
a young would-be writer, enters Claymoore Hospital in the late 1960s after
attempting suicide and being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Although she denies being "crazy," she does admit to seeing and
feeling things she doesn't understand, and her journal is full of cryptic
passages that cause alarm among her family. Consequently, she is forced
to take stupefying medication, live under constant supervision, and deal
with the prison-like social situation among the patients. However, after
some time, she establishes friendships with some of her fellows. Lisa (Jolie)
is a brash troublemaker (not unlike Jack Nicholson's Randall P. McMurphy
from Cuckoo), who has established herself as the dominant member
of the group by psychologically abusing the other women if and when possible.
She has escaped on more than one occasion only to be arrested, sedated,
and returned to the hospital.
Among the other patients Susanna gets to know are Georgina (Clea DuVall),
who lives in a fantasy world where she pictures herself as Dorothy from
The Wizard Of Oz; Daisy (King Of The Hill's Brittany Murphy),
who stays in her room and never admits anyone else except her overly loving
father and his famous roasted chicken; and Polly (Elizabeth Moss), nicknamed
"Torch" because she once set herself afire, disfiguring her face
almost beyond recognition. During her 1½-year stay at Claymoore,
Susanna is influenced by all these people and goes through many conflicting
feelings about her need for psychotherapy and her lack of faith in the hospital's
professional staff. Finally, she has an experience which sets her on the
road to recovery.
Girl, Interrputed is not without weak points. Among its flaws are some hard-to-swallow plot elements, like the fact that the patients occasionally seem to have the run of the place, breaking into the facility's main office, perusing their own psych records, and even bowling without being discovered. Escape and elusion of the guards seem remarkably commonplace, as does trading medications with little or no consequence. And the final reel, involving a character's 180-degree attitude change, seems oversimplified. Mangold's dialogue is mostly convincing, however, and the acting by Ryder, Jolie, and Goldberg is excellent enough to forgive the problems inherent in the script. ****½
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