Girl, Interrupted Movie Poster Image

Girl, Interrupted

(i)

 

Powerful look at mental illness; ages 16+.
Popular with kids
  • 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.

Violence

Graphic depiction of a main character's suicide.

Sex

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

Language

F-word galore.

Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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?

QUALITY

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
Genre:Drama
Run time:127 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language and adult content

This review of Girl, Interrupted was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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.
Parent Written bybabawawa033 December 31, 2012

Great Movie

I think that this move is very powerful, but very real. I think that it is just important to show a teenager about the sad and bad things in the world as it is to show them about the happy and good things in the world.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old April 19, 2009
This is an incredibely good movie with good acting galore, see angelina jolie, wiyonna ryder, and brittany murphy, really the whole cast. It is not on the entireluy appropraite scale but it is good heartwarming, and has good morals
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?