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Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 American psychological drama film based on Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir about her stay at a mental institution. Directed by James Mangold, it stars Winona Ryder (who also served as an executive producer) as Kaysen, with a supporting cast including Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Moss, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Girl, Interrupted
Girl, Interrupted (1999).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Mangold
Produced byDouglas Wick
Cathy Konrad
Screenplay byJames Mangold
Lisa Loomer
Anna Hamilton Phelan
Based onGirl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen
Music byMychael Danna
CinematographyJack N. Green
Edited byKevin Tent
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 8, 1999 (1999-12-08) (Cinerama Dome)
  • January 14, 2000 (2000-01-14) (United States)
Running time
127 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million
Box office$48.3 million[1]

Girl, Interrupted was released on January 14, 2000. Although it received mixed reviews, Jolie won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress.



After 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen has a nervous breakdown and overdoses, she is checked into a psychiatric hospital, Claymoore. On the ward, she befriends Polly, a childlike schizophrenic; Georgina, a pathological liar and Susanna’s roommate; and Daisy, who self-harms and has obsessive-compulsive disorder. She is drawn to sociopath Lisa, who is rebellious but charismatic and encourages Susanna to stop taking her medication and resist therapy.

Lisa has been at Claymoore for years, and knows how to manipulate its staff. She convinces Susanna to escape with her, and they run away to Daisy's home. Daisy has been recently discharged and is living in a house provided by her adoring father. After Lisa taunts Daisy for enjoying the sexual abuse she suffers from her father, Susanna finds Daisy dead the next morning, having apparently slit her wrists and hanged herself. Susanna is appalled when Lisa searches Daisy's room and body for cash. Realizing she does not want to become like Lisa, she phones for an ambulance and returns to Claymoore.

Susanna works on her painting and writing, and cooperates with her therapy. Before she is released, Lisa is returned to Claymoore. She steals Susanna's diary and reads it for the amusement of the patients, turning them against Susanna. After reading an entry in which Susanna feels sympathy for Lisa being a cold, dark person, Lisa attacks Susanna, who runs. After Susanna confronts her, Lisa breaks down and attempts suicide, but the patients talk her out of it. Before Susanna is released the next day, she goes to see Lisa. Susanna reflects that she will remember Claymoore forever.


  • Winona Ryder as Susanna Kaysen, the protagonist. She was eighteen years old when diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
  • Angelina Jolie as Lisa Rowe, diagnosed as a sociopath. She is charismatic, manipulative, rebellious, and abusive. She has been in the institution since she was nine, and has escaped several times over her eight years at the institution, but is always caught and is brought back eventually. She is looked up to by the other patients in the ward and forms a close bond with Susanna.
  • Clea DuVall as Georgina Tuskin, a pathological liar. She is Susanna's seventeen-year-old roommate and her closest friend next to Lisa.
  • Brittany Murphy as Daisy Randone, a sexually abused eighteen-year-old-girl with bulimia and OCD who cuts herself. She keeps the carcasses of the cooked chicken that her father brings her in her room. She later commits suicide the morning after being verbally attacked by Lisa.
  • Elisabeth Moss as Polly "Torch" Clark, a burn victim. She is sixteen years old and is very childlike and easily upset.
  • Angela Bettis as Janet Webber, an anorexic. Like Lisa, she is abrasive and seemingly aloof, but is also easily irritated or upset. She is twenty years old.
  • Jillian Armenante as Cynthia Crowley. She claims that she is a sociopath like Lisa, but Lisa denies this claim and states that she is a "dyke". She is easily amused. She is twenty-two.
  • Travis Fine as John, an orderly, who's smitten with Susanna. He is later sent to work at the men's ward after he and Susanna kiss and fall asleep together.
  • Kurtwood Smith as Dr. Crumble, a colleague of Susanna's father and retired therapist, but sees Susanna as a patient as a favor to her father and is the one that sends her to Claymoore.
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Dr. Melvin Potts
  • Joanna Kerns as Annette Kaysen, Susanna's mother.
  • Ray Baker as Carl Kaysen, Susanna's father.
  • Jared Leto as Tobias "Toby" Jacobs, Susanna's ex-boyfriend who plans to escape to Canada after being drafted into the military.
  • Vanessa Redgrave as Dr. Sonia Wick.
  • Whoopi Goldberg as Valerie Owens, RN.
  • Bruce Altman as Professor Gilcrest, a college professor who Susanna had an affair with.
  • Mary Kay Place as Barbara Gilcrest, Professor Gilcrest's wife.
  • KaDee Strickland as Bonnie Gilcrest, Professor Gilcrest's daughter.
  • Robin Reck as Theresa McCullian.
  • Misha Collins as Tony


In a 2000 Charlie Rose interview, Ryder revealed her strong passion to produce the film, indicating that it took seven years to get to the screen. After reading the book, Ryder immediately tried to secure the rights; however, a week earlier they had been purchased by Douglas Wick. Ryder then decided to team up with Wick along with her manager Carol Bodie, who acted as executive producer along with Ryder. Ryder also stated that she tried hard to persuade James Mangold to direct the film, who was reluctant at first. She states that Mangold was the right man for the role as director after she saw his directorial debut Heavy, which explored similar themes to Girl, Interrupted.[citation needed]


Filming took place along Main Street in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, as well as in Harrisburg State Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg was chosen for its old-fashioned appearance and its old-style drugstore simply titled "Drugs", all of which gave the film its time-dated appearance. A shot seen in the trailer shows the van traveling towards downtown Harrisburg over the State Street Bridge, where the Capitol building is clearly visible.[2] Deleted scenes were also filmed at Reading's Public Museum.


Critical responseEdit

The film received mixed reviews upon release. However, Angelina Jolie's performance received critical acclaim. Girl, Interrupted currently holds a rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes,[3] and a rating of 51 on Metacritic,[4] indicating largely mixed reviews from critics.

Stephen Holden in The New York Times wrote: "Girl, Interrupted is a small, intense period piece with a hardheaded tough-love attitude toward lazy, self-indulgent little girls flirting with madness: You can drive yourself crazy, or you can get over it. The choice is yours."[5]

Tom Coates from the BBC wrote: "Girl, Interrupted is a decent adaptation of her memoir of this period, neatened up and polished for an audience more familiar with gloss than grit."[6]

Author opinionEdit

The author, Susanna Kaysen, was among the detractors of the film, accusing Mangold of adding "melodramatic drivel" to the story by inventing plot points that never happened in the book (such as Lisa and Susanna running away together).[7]



  1. The Doors performing "Roadhouse Blues"
  2. Merrilee Rush performing "Angel of the Morning"
  3. Petula Clark performing "Downtown"
  4. Skeeter Davis performing "The End of the World"
  5. Aretha Franklin performing "Night Time Is the Right Time"
  6. Jefferson Airplane performing "Comin' Back to Me"
  7. Them performing "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"
  8. The Chambers Brothers performing "Time Has Come Today'"
  9. The Band performing "The Weight"
  10. The Mamas & the Papas performing "Got a Feeling"
  11. Wilco performing "How to Fight Loneliness"
  12. Simon & Garfunkel performing "Bookends Theme"


  1. ^ "Girl, Interrupted (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  2. ^ "Information on the filming of Girl, Interrupted at Harrisburg State Hospital". Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  3. ^ "Girl, Interrupted Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  4. ^ "Girl, Interrupted Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  5. ^ "New York Times Review". New York Times. 1999-12-21. Retrieved 2010-06-21.[dead link]
  6. ^ "BBC Review". BBC. 2001-06-28. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  7. ^ Danker, Jared. "Susanna Kaysen, without interruptions"[permanent dead link]. Retrieved 2003-02-04.

External linksEdit