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Film and Television Whether you're a film buff or just want to talk about your favorite television show, this forum is for you.

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A Girl Interrupted - My Review and Your Thoughts - August 30th 2011, 06:38 AM

It's been a while since I made one of these threads but after watching this movie, I felt I had to as I knew there would be diverse opinions on it. I've tried watching it 5 times in the past but never watched it in full because I became far too bored, however, while on vacation, with the Internet down due to a magnificent storm/tornado warning, there was fuck all on TV, so I watched this movie. Despite my boredom, I rate it as 7/10.

I gave it a higher rating than may be expected by my initial comments for numerous reasons, starting with the overall meaning of the movie. Unlike many movies that were flat out boring because they often sucked a hard bull cock, this movie mechanically uses boredom to illustrate the social setting of mental institutions pre-1970s. Interestingly, these illustrations remain in modern mental institutions. I viewed this boredom as illustrating the effects of a medicated (or over-medicated) group of patients who were given few activities to do, so they had to invent their own to keep sane (heh, irony). For example, they sneak into the basement rooms of the hospital to do various activities that they cannot do upstairs under the supervision of nurses and doctors.

This boredom also illustrates a wider implication: surveillance. In one of my criminology/sociology classes, we discussed various metaphors and types of surveillance. For this movie, it's best described as using the "Big Brother" metaphor taken from George Orwell's novel, 1984 (amazing book, read it if you haven't already). This form of surveillance is oppressive and intrusive, always being watched by a high authority that opposes being challenged. There are countless examples of this throughout the movie.

The movie also very effectively portrays the social stigma of mental illnesses. For example, when Dr. Melvin Potts (Jeffrey Tambor) diagnoses Susana Kaysen (Winowa Ryder) with borderline personality disorder, her parents are mortified even though it's clear they don't know what the disorder actually is. Her mother becomes enraged when Susana asks whether the disorder is genetic, in which Dr. Potts says it's often transferred from the mother's side. Consequently, her mother breaks down and says, "I cant take this, let's go". This stigma is also shown by Susana's boyfriend, Tony (Misha Collins) who tries to convince her that the patients are wackos and she isn't. He distances himself from the patients as much as possible while doing so as though he's terrified of them.

The actual acting was pretty good, although it contributed to the movie being boring as hell. It successfully portrayed much of the symptoms each patient was diagnosed with, although there were a few flaws. The main flaws were with Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie) who was a sociopath. Toward the middle-end, Lisa threatens to stab people, including herself with a large needle. She's enraged about the writing in Susana's diary and chases her around the basement. Eventually, she exclaims, "there are so many buttons to push, why does nobody ever push mine?", to which Susana responds with, "because you're dead, nobody cares about you ... your heart is cold". Consequently, a criminal sociopath ... bursts out into tears and stars screaming in mental anguish. Furthermore, she's depressed for weeks on end. This is not characteristic of a sociopath or psychopath, calling into question whether she actually is a sociopath in the first place.

A problem I saw throughout the movie was the physical appearance of the characters. Susana was pale as a ghost, along with Lisa and many other patients for no reason. However, at the end once she's released and is in the taxi, you notice her face is no longer pale. In fact, toward the end, all the faces of the patients are less pale, except for Lisa who remains pale. This is very unusual and confusing. Susana's paleness was identical, sometimes more so than Lisa's who allegedly is "dead".

There are many plot holes within the movie. One of them that is mentioned several times has to do with Lisa. As a sociopath who escaped several times, one would expect she has committed crimes, so it's confusing why she is not in a prison or jail. Obviously she isn't too successful since she's caught within the span of a few months. Another plot hole is when Valerie Owens (Whoopi Goldberg) is "sick of their [Susana's and Lisa's antics]", when they were found sleeping outside the room of fellow patient Polly "Torch" Clark (Elisabeth Moss) who was put into an isolation room for misbehaviour. Lisa and Susana were singing a song to cheer Polly up, so it is confusing why Owens is angry with them.

Yet another plot hole is when Susana is tossed into the cold bath by Owens, and Owens says she's not suffering from any disorder but is a spoiled brat who wants to make herself ill (paraphrasing). This was just after Susana slipped into depression, however, after the talking-to, Dr. Sonia Wick (Vanessa Redgrave) begins to suggest she's improved. After meeting with a panel of doctors and her parents, it's indicated Susana will be released but the nurses still have her take the regular medication.

The medication also becomes a plot hole since Susana's behaviour isn't terribly affected by them. In fact, her behaviour is almost the same yet she manages to quickly improve and be released. The movie skips out a lot of the actual therapy, which begs the question, how was she "cured"? Later on, the movie questions something from the start, was she even mentally ill in the first place?

The last plot hole is some of the patients interact with Susana a bit but are never mentioned ever again. For example, after seeing Lisa blow cigarette smoke in the face of an old lady, Susana does the same but is called, "you asshole". From that moment on, the old lady is never seen again yet the nurses make it clear nobody was released while Susana was hospitalized other than Daisy Randone (Brittany Murphy). Other patients are seen every now and then, waving to Susana at the end yet hardly seen anytime throughout the movie. It's as though the ending was somewhat hashed together by tossing in as many people as possible regardless of whether Susana liked or knew much of them. Of course, said old lady isn't there for that.

Although I said the boredom had purposes, it made the film unbearable to watch. Everything took so long to happen and whenever anything did happen, it was either quick and sudden or long and drawn out. While I understand the psych ward isn't meant to be Jolly Farm, there could at least be a bit more spunk from everyone, rather than bleak, miserable, sad, and then sudden action then miserable, sad and boring as shit.


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Re: A Girl Interrupted - My Review and Your Thoughts - August 31st 2011, 01:05 AM

I like Girl, Interrupted. One thing I love most about this film is the acting. I get what you mean when you say it can be boring though. This is one of the films I have to actually be in the mood to sit down and watch or else I won't enjoy it. :]


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Re: A Girl Interrupted - My Review and Your Thoughts - September 1st 2011, 10:18 PM

First, she was "sick of [their] shit" because they drugged the night nurse in order to sing to Polly without getting themselves in trouble.

Really, I don't pay attention to any plot holes or anything like that. I don't look that hard at movies. I've seen this movie over 300 times and it's my absolute favorite. I'd just like to point out that the title of the thread is wrong :P It's Girl, Interrupted.

Also, I read the book so it gives a little more information in some areas. I LOVE Angelina Jolie in that movie. It's one of the only movies I love her in.


"'Colie, you should never be surprised when people treat you with respect. You should expect it.'
I shook my head. 'You don't know--' I began. But, as usual, she didn't let me finish.
'Yes,' she said simply, 'I do know. I've watched you, Colie. You walk around like a dog waiting to be kicked. And when someone does, you pout and cry like you didn't deserve it.'
'No one deserves to be kicked,' I said.
'I disagree,' she said flatly. 'You do if you don't think you're worth any better...'"
   
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