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Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted

By Patrick Samuel • November 9th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Columbia Pictures

Release date: December 21st, 1999
Running time: 127 minutes

Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan

Cast: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg

Girl, Interrupted

“I know what it’s like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can’t. How you hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.” ~ Susanna Kaysen

Those words, when I first heard them spoken in Girl, Interrupted, could’ve come from my own lips. They rung so true and brought back feelings of guilt, shame, anger and such sadness, that it became a film I would never forget, as much as I could never forget the night I did exactly what Susanna (Winona Ryder) did when she “chased a bottle of aspirin, with a bottle of vodka”.

I was a Boy, Interrupted. And like Susanna, what I did was something I couldn’t even admit to myself then, or even try to formulate into words. It’s part of me now, a short stop in a dark place on the road of my life. It just felt like something I had to do, it was – I thought – the only way to kill the pain of everything else I was feeling… or the one thing I was feeling the most – loneliness.

Based on Susanna Kaysen’s memoirs, Girl, Interrupted is set in 1960’s New England, at a time when students are deciding what to do with their lives. The socially acceptable thing was to go to college, graduate, get a job, get married, settle down and retire and live out the remaining years with your grandchildren around you.

Susanna wasn’t sure that this was what she wanted, and following her darkest moment, she checks herself into Claymore psychiatric hospital. Instead of opening up to treatment by Dr Wick (Vanessa Redgrave) and Nurse Valerie (Whoopi Goldberg), she turns to her fellow inmates and begins to form unlikely friendships with them.

She meets Lisa (Angelina Jolie), a girl I am still terrified by. Confrontational and disruptive, Lisa is a sociopath who at first resents Susanna’s presence but eventually their friendship blossoms and it’s not long before they’re causing trouble in the wards and outside too. There’s also Georgina (Clea DuVall) who’s a compulsive liar and Daisy (Brittany Murphy), something of a daddy’s-girl, with a tendency to self-harm and who suffers from an eating disorder.

Girl, Interrupted

Daisy is a tragic character in this story, scarred not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. She leaves the ward to live in her own house which her dad got for her, “He got me the prettiest apartment, it has an eat-in chicken” she says to the girls while eating a cream cupcake.

While Daisy deludes herself into thinking it’s a new start, Lisa confronts her with the fact they all knew her father sleeps with her, “but what they don’t know is that you like it”. Anything that Lisa says to anyone is enough to tip them over the edge, that’s just who she is – she sees through the bullshit that people often project and she uses that to hurt them.

Daisy walks up the stairs to her room and the next morning Susanna goes to check on her and I’ve never been able to hear Skeeter Davis singing The End of the Girl, InterruptedWorld without remembering how much this scene affected me, or how off-handed Lisa’s reaction was.

As Susanna finds herself having to stand up to Lisa, in the process she starts to make own recovery, but what I found so affecting with Girl, Interrupted was not just the emotional scenes or the way the actresses brought their characters to life, it was really the dialogue, in the narration by Susanna, which spoke to me.

“Was I ever crazy? Maybe. Or maybe life is… Crazy isn’t being broken or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me amplified.”

I can relate to that. There was a time when I was like Susanna, when I felt like she did. And there were also times I was a little like each of those characters; confrontational like Lisa, too afraid to eat in front of people, like Daisy, invented stories so I didn’t have to deal with real life or just couldn’t stop hurting myself as a way to deal with a different kind of pain.

Perhaps we’re all like those girls at some point in our lives, but does that make us crazy? Or just alive?

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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