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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Camaraderie and friendship can be found in the darkest of places.
Positive Role Models
The main character grapples with mental illness and makes a few iffy decisions as a result, yet she's determined to get better and demonstrates perseverance.
All the patients at the hospital are White, which fails to acknowledge that mental illnesses also affect people of color. Instead, characters of color appear in service roles, such as Whoopi Goldberg playing a nurse. The mental health treatments portrayed might seem outdated to a modern audience, but they're based on the author's real experiences and memories from the 1960s. A character struggles with a visible facial burn.
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Violence & Scariness
Graphic depictions of self-harm and death via suicide. Intense yelling may upset some viewers. An incestuous relationship between one character and her father is implied.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters discuss fellatio and male genitalia. A sexual encounter takes place where one character is shown partially nude. Very brief male nudity through a window, far away and unclear.
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"F--k" is used a lot. Other swear words include "s--t," "d--k," and "a--hole." "Crazy" is frequently used to describe characters. A White character mocks African American Vernacular English, saying to a Black character, "you's ain't no doctor … you's ain't nothing but a Black nurse maid" and calling her a "Negro welfare mother."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Prescription drug abuse, references to LSD and marijuana use. Characters smoke cigarettes and weed at a party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Girl, Interrupted depicts a young woman's (Winona Ryder) stay in a psychiatric hospital. It features characters with depression and eating disorders. A character dies by suicide (graphic). Hospital scenes include graphic depictions of young women in straitjackets and recovering from electric shock therapy. Characters abuse prescription drugs and use strong language, especially "f--k." White characters use derogatory terms when referring to their Black nurse, such as calling her a "Negro welfare mother." An incestuous relationship between one character and her father is implied. The film includes frank discussions of sex and partial and passing nudity. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This highly watchable and moving film follows Susanna's journey to reclaiming her mental health, but disconcerting depictions of 1960s-era treatments may be unsuitable for some. Still, Girl, Interrupted features strong, often complex friendships forged between women at the psychiatric hospital. Their frequent and loud confrontations can seem exaggerated for dramatic effect, with various illnesses viscerally portrayed, such as a girl who's addicted to laxatives and another recovering from abuse by her father, to a girl who struggles with a visible facial burn. Girl, Interrupted is at its best when exploring these women.
Because the film features popular actresses like Ryder and Angelina Jolie, kids may already be familiar with it and want to see it -- particularly because it's the movie that made Jolie a star. Yet it deals with such serious subject matter -- incest, suicide, drug abuse, and more -- that caregivers should consider whether it's appropriate for their kids.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Movies That Feature Characters Living with Mental Illness
TV Shows About Mental Health
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate