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.
In a tradition reminiscent of Holden Caulfield, the audience knows there is nothing actually wrong with Kaysen, except that she is a typical teenager, and refuses to conform to the life her parents want for her. However, after spending some time with her ward mates and numerous doctors, she starts to believe that she is insane, but can't understand why or what exactly is wrong with her. At one point, she asks a sympathetic nurse (played by Whoopi Goldberg) how she is expected to be cured if she doesn't even understand her illness. Throughout the film, writer James Mangold's exploration of Kaysen's changing emotions and attempts to understand her `illness' is captivating.
However, even more fascinating than Kaysen herself were the supporting characters. Perhaps the most striking of these characters though, is Lisa, played by Angelina Jolie. Jolie completely immerses herself in the role, and gives a moving, intriguing and haunting performance as Susanna's best friend at the hospital. Although Ryder does an excellent job portraying the earnestness and confusion of her character, Jolie is the true star of this movie.
Adapted from Kaysen's memoir, the film works well to bring Kaysen's' words to life. The parts that were altered for the screenplay made sense, allowing the story to translate well to the screen. Additionally, the length of the film allowed for more depth and details to be explored, which sometimes left out of Kaysen's short novel. Thus, the film helped add onto and bring more understanding to characters which were introduced in the novel.
- Jan 25, 2000