The reality is a bit different.
In the reality, the 60s are little more than a backdrop, an added boo-hoo to an already lengthy list of depression. The decade is briefly touched upon. It is only mentioned in the sense of the possibility of someone being drafted for the Vietnam War.
The rest of the movie is basically a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in an all-female ward.
Unlike One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which focused very strongly on patients rights, Girl, Interrupted gets stuck in the same crisis as its protagonist (Suzanne, played by Winona Ryder): it is unable to decide what to do with itself.
Stuck inside of Claymoore, we have an all-female cast of characters that range from the ultra-bizarre to the downright surreal. We have Borderline Personality Suzanne, Sociopath Lisa (Angelina Jolie), Compulsive Liar Georgina (Clea DuVall), Chicken-Fetishist Daisy (Brittany Murphy), and half-burned Polly (Elizabeth Moss). Add to this bit roles by Whoopi Goldberg as a much more fun Nurse Ratchett and Vanessa Redgrave as a psychiatrist rumored to have same-sex tendencies, and you have the makings of a great comedy with mild touches of seriousness. However, Girl, Interrupted's director James Mangold (Cop Land) never quite figures that out. Instead, he vacillates between making a movie that takes itself too seriously and a movie that doesn't take itself seriously at all.
Regardless, Mangold is able to pull off the difficult task of making an insane-asylum movie that does not feel overwhelmingly political. As a result of its ability to not meddle in patients rights or politics, Girl, Interrupted ends up being beyond the highly bearable that it could have ended up as. Going out on a limb, I will state that the film is even moderately enjoyable.
Angelina Jolie works wonders in her role as a sociopath, giving a performance that makes you absolutely believe in the amorality of her character. Winona Ryder, on the other hand, proves that she and Keanu Reeves would make a great couple, for they both have about the same amount of thespian ability. Clea DuVall once again proves to be a darling up-and-comer.
Despite these mixed performances (a bad main role and a great supporting cast), Girl, Interrupted still results in being an incredibly unfocused film. This may be due to the fact that the film springs from Suzanne's journal, which she describes as "the litter of her mind." In the end of it all, this is what hurts the film the most. Coming out of the theatre, you feel like Suzanne coming out of Claymoore: confused, slightly empty, and mixed up.
Run time: 127 mins
In Theaters: Friday 14th January 2000
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 60 Rotten: 52
IMDB: 7.3 / 10
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen, Angelina Jolie as Lisa Rowe, Whoopi Goldberg as Valerie Owens, Vanessa Redgrave as Dr. Wick, Clea DuVall as Georgina Tuskin, Brittany Murphy as Daisy Randone, Jared Leto as Toby, Elisabeth Moss as Polly Clark, Jeffrey Tambor as Dr. Melvin Potts, Angela Bettis as Janet Webber, Jillian Armenante as Cynthia Crowley, Drucie McDaniel as M.G., Christina Myers as Nurse Margie, Travis Fine as Nurse John, Mary Kay Place as Barbara Gilcrest