Girl, Interrupted (1999): I Was Supposed To Be Observing Borderline Personality Disorder But I Was Distracted by Angelina Jolie

I watched this in my Psych class, spanning across three days. Although not specifically said, I assumed we watched this for the reason of seeing what borderline personality disorder was like, as we had just finished a unit on personality disorders.

Although categorized as a biography, I can tell that is has been Hollywood-ed up.

Although not a huge fan of intense dramas, I was definitely hooked into this movie, so much that at certain points I even forgot that I was sitting in a freezing classroom with a large head blocking the bottom right corner of the screen for the most part.

Girl, Interrupted (directed by James Mangold) tells the story of Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder) and her stay at a mental institution in the late 60s. It shows the audience the people she encountered, including Valerie (Whoopi Goldberg) the RN and Georgina (Clea Duvall), a troubled pathological liar. However, most striking of all was Lisa, a diagnosed disturbed sociopath, portrayed amazingly by the very talented Angelina Jolie.

She deserved all those awards she won. And maybe more.

Disclaimer: I have not read the book (though I’d like to), nor have I done research on the accuracies of this movie. I am reviewing this simply as a movie.

Lisa was the most eye-catching, intense, interesting character, no competition. Although armed with a charming smile and a confident aura, Jolie manages to somehow also show that Lisa is by no means “normal”; she is highly disturbed, although how is unclear for the majority of the movie.

To be honest, I’m not sure why this hit me so hard. It is rare for a good performance to affect me so much, probably because I have never had any personal experience with acting, so although I appreciate good acting, I feel like I don’t really understand it (am I making sense?). But I cannot deny that Angelina Jolie’s performance really blew me away with how Lisa she seemed.

I feel like it was the intensity of the character herself added on with a mind-blowing performance of the portrayal of that character that really got to me. Lisa is fascinating and Jolie is able to let the audience see that fascination, hooking them to Lisa. After each day, I was left with the strong feeling, “Angelina Jolie was so amazing.”

Not to mean that no one else was good. In fact, everyone was pretty fantastic, from Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen to her boyfriend, portrayed by the Jared Leto that I did not recognize.

To be fair, I am not very familiar with Jared Leto, so that’s probably why I didn’t recognize him. (It was the eyes that gave him away though)

I felt like I was able to see all the characters through their portrayals by their respective actors; I got a clear sense of how this character was, how they differed from the others. They felt like round characters, rather than just a name plastered to a face.

Conclusion: Gripping and dramatic, Girl, Interrupted catches the audience through spectacular acting (particularly Jolie’s Lisa) as well as interesting characters. Although probably (definitely) Hollywood-ed up, it still provides an interesting movie worth watching. Although if you aren’t interested in the plot, you should still watch it for Angelina Jolie. Bonus points for her. And for making me appreciate a well-made movie, particularly in a category that I typically don’t watch. 8/10.

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