Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the late 1960s.Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the late 1960s.Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the late 1960s.Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the late 1960s.Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the late 1960s.
Susanna is a victim of neurosis, great expectations, confusion, an uncertain future and the sundry other problems an average teenager's life are pounded with. For all her brilliance, Susanna has the undeniable gift of the cynic and the pessimist, who still hasn't made up her mind about life's meaning and is upset about it. She has the nagging feeling that her character is incomplete and gets caught in the depressing vortex of tendencies that earn her the title of, what we're later told, a border line personality. An almost successful but unintentional suicide attempt lands her in the footsteps of Claymoore, a mental instituition. In the confined borders of the instituition, Susanna is surprised to discover how well she identifies with the pain and flaws of fellow inmates. Here, the atmosphere is sans any prejudice or cliches. Here, everyone is a victim one way or the other. Far from the deplorable world outside the instituition, susanna feels that she's finally home. And it is this atmosphere that slowly gives way to the realisation of her actual needs, her character and her purpose.
In the first half of the film, the director employs an interesting technique of fusing two different scenes and establishing a coherence that not only takes the story forward but at the same time tells us what is already past. Apart from Susanna and maybe Lisa, few characters are generously sketched. This, although, doesn't allow the loosening of the plot's grip on you. Furthermore, the institution is projected in a more agreeable light and the resultant sympathy for the characters ( unlike 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest') does not coincide with an abhorrence towards the angle of treatment. The movie does lead the viewer to understand the plight of the inmates, but not with the object of establishing the reasons that led to their condition. Rather it concentrates on the way these girls face their fate, day in and day out. It also highlights the way the girls identify with each others problems, hopes and desires in a fashion that alternates between being poignant and amusing.
Perhaps the most distinct factor about the movie is the exemplary performances put up by a cast that mostly comprises of females. I haven't seen a film that could hold its own without a single male lead, as good as this movie does. Winona Ryder is very convincing as Susanna. Angelina Jolie delivers so well that I am having a hard time getting over the fact that she agreed to Lara Croft. Whoopi Goldberg is good but her role is regrettably restricted. Constrained performances by all the actresses make this film worthy of being watched. It is funny, sad, mischievous and optimistic all at the same time.
Watch it if you can for it is very unlikely that you would get disappointed. Like I said it is quite likeable!
- drake blueskull
- Apr 24, 2002