Girl, Interrupted Movie Review
Just in time for contention in the 1999 Academy Awards came Girl, Interrupted, a movie that was snubbed from every major award except for Best Supporting Actress, which Angelina Jolie proudly took home. The surprising thing is, after seeing the movie, that this movie has a lot more going for it than just a supporting actress - it has class in the main actress's role (Winona Ryder), the director (James Mangold) and several more technical aspects. I can see how a movie about a bunch of crazy girls might not appeal to the Oscar nominators, but Girl, Interrupted has a lot going for it.
As already mentioned, Winona Ryder stars as Susanna, a girl who is admitted to a psychiatric ward after trying to kill herself when she thought all the bones in her hand had vanished. Even though she denies that there's anything wrong with her at first, she is one of the more normal people there. Angelina Jolie is Lisa, a woman who seems normal on the outside but is also a raging sociopath. She's the strongest of the group, mainly because she scares everyone else. Both of these actresses do a great job. It's a shame that Winona Ryder didn't get an Oscar nod, and it's a good thing that Angelina Jolie won hers. Both performances are very believable, very emotional, and very easy to watch.
The story is very interesting as well. Girl, Interrupted does a good job of introducing Ryder to the psychiatric ward without making a comedy of it, even though it does take some liberties in making us laugh at some of the stranger patients. Nevertheless, the ward is presented as real and so are the people. There are too many times when crazy people are made out to be funny when they're not, and Girl, Interrupted avoids this as much as it can. The introduction to Ryder's character is also done well, as we are given a view almost from her perspective. We know she has problems but the way she acts and reacts to the other patients does not suggest she is crazy, which is exactly the way she feels about herself.
Furthermore, the movie is edited in an intriguing way that further amplifies Ryder's character. There are a series of flashbacks dropped in with the continuing storyline that detail how Ryder came to be the way she is, and the best part about it is that the flashbacks work well with the current scene. The transitions are almost seamless as Ryder might be talking to one person in the past and then she turns her head and is talking to someone in the present. I really liked the direction in this film, namely the editing and the subtle camera work.
The only flaw Girl, Interrupted has is the ending. It seems out of place compared to the rest of the movie and almost a little too "action packed" as Ryder tries to "escape" her friends. The ending seems hastily done and not the best wrap up for the film. At one point I couldn't help but thinking Angelina Jolie was trying to be Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Girl, Interrupted is an interesting movie with good acting and good directing. It stumbles near the end but has an overall good presentation, and this one should have gotten more of a chance to show itself at the Oscars.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.