Movie Review: Girl, Interrupted

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Director: James Mangold

Writers: Susanna KaysenJames MangoldLisa LoomerAnna Hamilton Phelan

Stars: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie

Verdict: Good enough

James Mangold is a very interesting director. Having made his name with Cop Land, which was meant to be more a Sylventre Stallone vehicle than anything else, him proving to everyone he can do serious, non Rocky, non First Blood, (a.k.a. Rambo), type stuff, (look how that went), he then moves on to this, Girl, Interrupted, a very different film; based off a very well respected literary source, also more of a vehicle for a supporting actor who is more known for less wighty work, (Angelina Jolie). Before going on to make a Johnny Cash biopic, (Walk the Line), the remake 3:10 to Yuma; of which I’m a big fan, and a couple of Wolverine movies… 

Intersting guy. 

Girl, Interrupted follows a rich middle/upper class girl in the 60s who seems unstuck in time, much in the way Billy Pilgrim was in Slaughterhouse-Five, played by Winona Ryder, (Stranger ThingsBlack Swan, Edward Scissorhands), who checks herself into a mental institution for women and then, well, drama happens. 

Girl, Interrupted has it’s flaws definitely, but it is still a very engaging film. It has a very well cast, and star studded, cast of actors that form an ensemble around Ryder, who until last year’s Stranger Things has been sorely lacking from our screens because she is a very talented, if occasionally one note, screen presence. The cast is rouned out by the likes of Woopie Goldberg, (The Color Purple), Elizabeth Moss, (Mad Men, The One I Love), Jared Leto, (Requiem for a Dream, Dallas Buyers Club), and Brittany Murphy, (King of the Hill, 8 MileClueless). Although sometimes they’re performances, ANGELINA JOLIE INCLUDED — I DON’T CARE THAT SHE WON AN OSCAR – can come off sometimes as a bit one note and sometimes wooden, there are some incredibly striking moments of real acting from all included. 

The film has sequences that are incredibly directed, some of them are directed like a horror film, and I was really hiding behind the back of my cardigan; others have that engrossing high drama sense of the audit scene from The Master; and others have this strange other worldy feel of young girls running off to escape into fantasy like Pan’s Labyrinth, or Yeat’s The Lost Child, except it’s just to the basement to do some bowling. 

The film has received some sniffy reviews, it currently sits at 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, and you can see why. It has definite pacing issues, it’s a bit structureless, as I said the acting is frequently below where I’d like it to be, and I could have done with some more thorough characterisation. In the end I think the film has suffered in adaptation and having to loose things in that process as all book adaptations have to. I really want to read the book, but the film is a flawed, deeply flawed, but all the same definitely an engaging, suspensful and at time mournful drama with a strong female cast. 

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