Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
James Mangold’s fact-based drama. Winona Ryder plays a teenager wrongly sent to an asylum where the inmates include Brittany Murphy and Oscar-winning Angelina Jolie. Also starring Whoopi Goldberg.
Set in the altering world towards the conclusion of the 1960s, "Girl, Interrupted" is the intense true story of Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder), a young woman who finds herself at a well-known mental institution for disturbed young women, where she has to make a decision between the world of individuals who belong on the inside – like the seductive and hazardous Lisa (Angelina Jolie) – or the frequently problematic world of authenticity on the outside.
Winona Ryder gives a good performance in her part as Susanna Kaysen, the young woman who doesn’t like the mental institution and has a choice to make over which world she wants to be in. What will it be?
Elsewhere, there is a solid supporting performance to be had from Angelina Jolie in her part as Lisa, one of the inmates involved who certainly makes her feelings clear and steals some scenes in the process. She deservedly won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and gives the best performance in the film.
Also giving respectable performances are Brittany Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg in their respective roles as Daisy Randone and Valerie Owens. Daisy is another of the inmates, while Valerie is the nurse in charge of the ward.
Keep an eye out for Vanessa Redgrave and a young Jared Leto who appear respectively as Sonia Wick and Toby Jacobs. Sonia is the doctor, while Toby is Susanna’s ex-boyfriend who wants to get away to Canada.
The direction from Mangold is good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a tense atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent-enough standard by the director, Lisa Loomer and Anna Hamilton Phelan.
I say decent-enough, because there are some scenes that did not need to be in the final edit, so the duration didn’t need to be as long as it was.
The camera stands out best in terms of the technical aspects, because it makes good use of the locations and also captures the tense and dramatic moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status.
Overall, Girl, Interrupted has good performances, especially from Angelina Jolie, along with direction and tension, but the sometimes-weak script, slow pace and long duration does make it forgettable at the same time.