I watched this Academy Award winning film yesterday for the first time. I found it to be an incredibly moving piece, and was surprised by the way in which it impressed itself upon me in a permanent way. Angelina Jolie is famed for her depiction of Lisa, labelled a sociopath, in this film, but it was Winona Ryder's portrayal of Susanna Kaysen that resonated with me, perhaps for the reason that Susanna's character is not especially unrecognisable.
Girl, Interrupted is the movie adaptation of the real-life memoir of Susanna Kaysen, who was placed into the care of a mental health facility after a suicide attempt. Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, Susanna resists the facility in whose care she is placed, and is inspired and mesmerised by fellow patient Lisa's radical manipulation of those around her. In denial of her disorder and furious with her life both inside and outside of the hospital, Susanna's journey to mental health is a struggle in which the hospital staff, therapists and other patients participate in, and at times, appear to hinder.
The film sheds light on the way in which mental health was viewed in the sixties; arguably a mixture of emerging acceptance and lingering predjudice. It is also an example of the way in which a seemingly healthy person may be suffering under the surface, perhaps unknowingly.
I don't want to summarise the plot too much, or to analyse too heavily its details, as I feel that for many, that ruins the purpose of the movie. In this post, I just wanted to commend the film for being a sympathetic and realistic portrayal of the journey through which people with mental health issues must struggle. It is refreshing to see the staff of a mental health facility being portrayed in a positive light, for they deserve nothing less in this modern era (Nurse Rached, be gone!).
I think the title of the film, and the memoir from which it is derived, is incredibly apt. Girl, Interrupted is demonstrative of the way in which one's life may be temporarily, or permanently, interrupted by the presence of mental health issues, and brings about the notion that, in order to move on, these issues must be managed and worked with with nothing less than the utmost of diligence and care, as is depicted with finesse in this wonderful film.