Girl, Interrupted

  • Review Date: October 19, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 127 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Powerful look at mental illness; ages 16+.
  • Review Date: October 19, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 127 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Protagonist has an affair with a married man. One of the main characters steals money, runs away, and bullies others verbally and physically.


Graphic depiction of a main character's suicide.


Several sexual references, some sexual situations, very brief male nudity (through a window, far away).


F-word galore.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Prescription drug abuse, references to LSD and marijuana use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is a graphic depiction of a young woman's stay in a mental hospital. It features characters with depression and eating disorders. One of the main characters hangs herself. Characters abuse prescription drugs and use strong language. Hospital scenes include graphic depictions of young women in straitjackets and those recovering from electric shock therapy. Several use highly derogatory terms when referring to their African-American nurse. Incest and the male anatomy are discussed at some length.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

GIRL, INTERRUPTED is an unsettling, provocative account of a girl's journey through the depths of depression and her coming-to-terms with both her illness and with growing up. Based on a memoir by author Susanna Kaysen, the film chronicles the protagonist's suicide attempt, her relationship with her emotionally remote parents, as well as her intense relationships with other patients while she is hospitalized. The film's depictions of the characters' various illnesses are downright scary: from a girl who is addicted to laxatives and obsessed with chicken to a girl who can't cope with a disfiguring facial burn. Girl, Interrupted is at its best when exploring the struggles of Susanna's cohorts in the hospital. Moreover, the film's depictions of mental health care in the 1960s are equally disconcerting and discomforting.

Is it any good?


Unfortunately, Girl, Interrupted lapses into morbid melodrama at various points. Viewers will be interested in the strong, often painful friendships that Susanna forged with other girls in the hospital. However, the frequent, garish, shrill confrontations between the girls seem highly unrealistic. This is a profound weakness in a film that is, otherwise, an introspective account of mental illness that feels -- painfully and candidly -- real.

Because the film features popular actresses like Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, and Winona Ryder, kids will probably be familiar with this film and want to see it -- particularly because it's the movie that made Jolie a star. Yet it contains such serious subject matter --including incest, suicide, and drug abuse, to name a few --that parents should consider either watching it with younger teens or limiting it to older teens. It's definitely not appropriate for younger viewers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the impact of Susanna's illness on the various decisions she makes. How did Susanna's depression influence her behavior with Professor Gilcrest and Toby Jacobs? Families could also discuss Susanna's relationship with Lisa. How did Lisa both help and hurt Susanna's recovery? Parents might talk with their kids about characters' abuse of prescription drugs throughout the film. How was Susanna different when she took her medications as directed by the doctors? Susanna states that she is being unfairly labeled "promiscuous" because she is a sexually active girl. Why might people judge boys differently than girls when it comes to sex? Is Susanna right?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1999
DVD release date:June 6, 2000
Cast:Angelina Jolie, Clea Duvall, Winona Ryder
Director:James Mangold
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:127 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language and adult content

This review of Girl, Interrupted was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bybubbleboy July 7, 2009

An Almost-Perfect Account of Mental Illness in the 60s

This is a great movie stuck in a good movie's body. Winona Ryder and (especially) Angelina Jolie are tremendous, and pull off some painfully tense scenes that will stick with you long after viewing. The film tells the true story of Susanna Kaysen, an eighteen year-old girl who chased a bottle of Asprin with a bottle of vodka, but denies that she was trying to kill herself. She is sent to a top-notch mental insitution and suspiciously diagnosed with "Borderline Personality Disorder." There, she befriends Lisa (Jolie), a sociopath who controls relationships. The film then poses some very interesting questions: Is Susanna insane? Did she try to kill herself? Where does the line between sanity and insanity blur? However, these questions are sometimes squandered by harsh treatment, taking great performances and subject matter and turning them (at times) to an overwrought soap opera. However, the breakout performance by Jolie and the deep subjrct matter mmake it well-worth seeing. You can only wish for more.
Teen, 15 years old Written byjoralpar May 30, 2010

Hard to understand for the youngsters, overall good movie!

It is a very good movie & makes you want to not stop watching it. Very interesting, though shows some mentally ill women in different various situations. It's a bit disturbing for the youth.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byWintergirl December 3, 2010

Perfect for older kids, just not for teens

I loved this movie. It's a very emotionally stirring film that deals with tough subjects including depression, eating disorders, cutting, suicide, drugs and smoking that older teens can relate with. Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie were great in this movie.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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