Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 6/20/00
1999 (2000) - Columbia
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
127 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:16:54, at the
start of chapter 19), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary
by director James Mangold, deleted scenes with commentary, isolated
film score, HBO First Look: The Making of
Girl, Interrupted featurette, 4 theatrical trailers (Girl,
Interrupted, Bram Stoker's
Dracula, Little Women
and Foxfire), filmographies,
film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages:
English, (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
There are an
innumerable amount of phrases that I could tie in with the title of
the movie Girl, Interrupted,
to convey how disjointed it feels at times. However difficult it may
be, I will resist the temptation to do so. After a promising start,
and with the help of a few good performances, Girl,
Interrupted falls off-track about halfway through the
film, and becomes very episodic. But even worse... it becomes
average. One of the problems may be that the material now seems all
too familiar. We've seen this story done already, and done better in
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
This time, the action centers on the women's wing of Claymoore, a
psychiatric hospital during the 1960s. Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder)
is hospitalized after swallowing a bottle of aspirin with a liter of
vodka. She is reluctant to go to the hospital and is in complete
denial, but eventually she checks herself in for what she thinks
will be a short stay.
Once there, she meets Lisa (Angelina Jolie), a sociopath and
frequent escapee who makes a habit of pushing everyone's sensitive
buttons and speaking straight from the gut. After a rocky start, the
two become good friends. Susanna needs Lisa's bluntness to convey to
her the reality of her situation. As Susanna learns the ropes around
the hospital, she also gains the trust of Valerie (Whoopi Goldberg),
one of the staff nurses who assures her (in the typical movie-style
tough love way) that she will eventually get out of Claymoore and
lead a normal, productive life.
The movie instills a sense of hope for all its characters ,as they
deal with day to day life outside of the world. But it's diluted
with so much cliché-ridden, Hollywood female bonding, that it
undermines the effectiveness of their relationships. At one point in
the movie, they all have a chance to escape when they acquire a set
of hospital keys. Instead, they choose to use them to get into the
basement of the building and bond over a game of bowling. Okay, why?
Another issue I have ,is that director/co-writer James Mangold
seems to like some characters a lot more than others. The only two
characters in the movie that are really developed are Susanna and
Lisa, and the rest remain fairly one-dimensional. I found most of
the background characters just as interesting as (and sometimes more
interesting than) the main characters. The movie is based on Susanna
Kaysen's autobiographical book of the same name. The book is not
told in a straight linear fashion, and this may be the problem with
the translation to the big screen. The movie is essentially a series
of episodes, but they're not held together in a cohesive manner.
I'm dismayed that in a year of strong female supporting
performances in really great movies, the Academy chose to honor
Angelina Jolie for her work in this very flawed film. I would like
to have seen Toni Collette, Chloe Sevigny, Catherine Keener or
Cameron Diaz get a little more recognition for their work last year.
Jolie's showy performance seemed too exaggerated and hysterical to
be believable, and many times I felt Winona Ryder was actually a lot
better - more complex and far more dynamic. Ryder's transition from
a shy, introspective young woman to a self-indulgent brat was smooth
and without flaw, and it was far more engaging to watch. Jolie is
Hollywood's new favorite edgy/flaky "It" girl, and she's
definitely a promising young actress. But it seems now (with roles
in the awful Bone Collector,
Gone in 60 Seconds and the
upcoming Tomb Raider) that
she's more interested in earning a paycheck than taking on
challenging work. Hopefully, she'll soon return to making movies
first and worry about money second.
The video presentation of Girl,
Interrupted is first-rate. Many of the scenes are
saturated with natural light sources, and these come across very
effectively with little noticeable edge enhancement. Contrast is
also exceptional, with no interference from color bleeding. A very
clean source print was used for the transfer to DVD. There is some
minor scratching during the opening credits, but they pretty much
disappear after that point. I did notice one or two occasions where
the picture took on a softer look, but this didn't last longer than
a few seconds and seemed print (and not transfer) related. Black
level is also especially good, with only very rare instances of
compression artifacting that break up the picture. By and large,
this is a nice anamorphic picture.
As usual, Columbia offers their standard choice of two English
tracks in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 surround. Both are good,
but neither is expansive and enveloping. Good, if infrequent, use is
made of the .1 LFE channel, which provides some needed depth to the
audio track. The 5.1 mix doesn't make a lot of use of the surround
channels. When it does, they're used mainly for the film's score
(which is also included separately in its own track). Nonetheless,
dialogue level is never compromised by an over-active effects or
There are a small number of good features to accompany the
video/audio presentation of Girl,
Interrupted on DVD. Along with the previously mentioned
isolated music score, there is a commentary track by James Mangold.
He talks at length (and almost non-stop) throughout the entire track
about directorial and writing choices that were made for production
of the movie, but doesn't necessarily stay on track with what's
happening on screen. It's an enjoyable listen from start to finish.
The HBO First Look featurette
is a small behind-the-scenes look at the production of the movie,
that has interviews with actors, producers, the director and more.
Most of the deleted scenes are just extended versions of scenes
already in the movie - footage that was excised to shorten an
already too lengthy film. What's left, as far as features go, is
standard stuff - theatrical trailers and talent files.
Girl, Interrupted has its
moments, but that's exactly the problem. They feel like moments
rather than a journey. The characters have taken a long journey on
the inside of the hospital, and we should have been there with them.
But if you enjoyed the movie in theatres or are just interested in a
one-time viewing at home, this DVD is the perfect way to do it.
While not a special edition, the disc has a fair amount of good
features to add to your viewing enjoyment. And since it's a Columbia
release, you're practically assured of a high-quality DVD product.