troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Film: Girl, Interrupted

Dr. Crumble: "Susanna, four days ago you chased a bottle of aspirin with a bottle of vodka."
Susanna: "I had a headache."

American film released in 1999, starring Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg and Brittany Murphy. Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her stay in a mental institution in the late 1960's.

Shortly after her high school graduation and a subsequent suicide attempt (probably), upper middle class Susanna (Ryder) is admitted to Claymoore Psychiatric Hospital, where she meets and in some cases befriends other young, female patients, most notably Lisa (Jolie), the charismatic ring leader. The group rebels against the oppression of institutionalized life, going bowling in the basement at night and breaking into the doctor's office to read their case files. Susanna is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, Lisa is a sociopath, Georgina a compulsive liar and the saccharine Polly is a disturbed burn victim. Other patients count an anorexic called Janet, a butch lesbian called Cynthia - homosexuality still being regarded as a mental disorder at the time - and the hostile Daisy, who's dealing with an eating disturbance of her very own and is somewhat at odds with Lisa.

After some rule breaking and conflicts with the staff that leads to Lisa being taken away for electroshock treatment, she and Susanna escape one night. It ends up being a rather short trip during which Susanna becomes disenchanted with Lisa and voluntarily returns to Claymoore. Lisa is later returned too, less voluntarily and in a pretty bad state. Susanna, in the meantime, has recovered and is preparing to leave the institution, which leads to a final showdown between her and Lisa.

Jolie won quite a few awards for her supporting role, among them a Golden Globe and an Oscar.


Tropes evident in Girl, Interrupted include:

  • Based on a True Story: The film is based on the memoirs of Susanna Kaysen. It's not the most faithful adaptation in the world, but it's still recognizable.
  • Berserk Button: Daisy does not like people barging into her room.
  • Blatant Lies: Given that Georgina is a pathological liar, it's natural that she lets slip a few of these.
    My dad is the head of the CIA and he could have you dead in minutes!!
  • Breaking Speech: Lisa's speech to Daisy, which proves to be the latter's breaking point.
  • Broken Record: "Don't they know it's the end of the world..."
  • Covered with Scars: Polly, due to the fact that she set herself on fire.
  • Crashing Dreams: The "checks" that interrupt Susanna's flashback daydreams early in the film.
  • Cute Kitten: Ruby, Daisy's cat, who is later adopted by Susanna and later by Polly.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Susanna definitely has her moments.
    Dr. Potts: You've been feeling bad in general. You've been feeling depressed?
    Susanna: Well, I haven't exactly been a ball of joy, Melvin.
    Janet: When they built this place they put the tunnels in so the loons didn't have to go anywhere in the cold.
    Susanna: I must've missed that in the brochure.
    "Taking us for ice creams in a blizzard. Makes you wonder who the real whackjobs are."
    • Valerie definitely has some snark in her:
    Susanna: Has anyone ever watched you shave your legs?
    Valerie: I got two kids and one bathroom; what do you think?

    After which Susanna upstages her in the snark department by responding "I think you should lock the door."
  • Distant Finale: In the novel. Some time after Susanna is released from the hospital, she has encounters with Georgina, now married, and with Lisa, who has had a child.
  • Double Standard: Not the film, but the morality of the time. Susanna's promiscuity is considered pathological and she asks if the reaction would have been the same, had she been male.
  • Draft Dodging: After being drafted, Susanna's boyfriend, Toby, tries to get her to run away with him to Canada.
  • Driven to Suicide: Susanna attempting it (despite her denying claims) is what got her committed to the institution. A former patient called Jamie (and former resident of Susanna's room) hung herself, as does Daisy later in the film.
  • Erotic Eating: The "nuts" scene in the ice cream parlor.
  • Fingore: Susanna accidentally slams her fingers in a heavy sliding door towards the end of the film.
  • Flash Back: Susanna has several, with some depicting the events that drove her to overdose on aspirin, and others introducing characters that show up later.
  • Foil: As confirmed in the director's commentary, Lisa is one to Polly.
  • Freak Out!: Polly, usually the epitome of cheer, completely loses it one night, throwing things around and screaming "I'm ugly!" repeatedly. In the novel, she screams "My face!" over and over again.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Occurs during Susanna being driven back to Claymoore by Dr. Potts following Daisy's suicide.
  • Hannibal Lecture: After Lisa is locked in solitary confinement she says something (that the audience never hears) that results in M.G. being taken away in a straitjacket.
  • Hollywood New England: Claymoore is in suburban Boston.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Averted. Susanna and Lisa's rendition of "Downtown" is realistically off-key, and is one of the film's more heartwarming moments.
  • A House Divided: Susanna's confrontation with Lisa, Georgina and Polly in the tunnels underneath the hospital.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with the aftermath of Susanna's confrontation with Lisa, Georgina and Polly, with most of the rest of the film leading up to that point.
  • Howl of Sorrow: Lisa, during her breakdown.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Lisa always pronounces "therapist" as "ther-rapist", "therapy" as "ther-rape-me" and "diagnosis" as "diag-nonsense".
    • Daisy twice accidentally refers to her eat-in kitchen as "eat-in chicken", illustrating her unusual eating disorder.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Susanna and Toby.
  • Lack of Empathy: Lisa - the crowning example would probably be when she scoffs "What an idiot" after discovering Daisy's corpse, and then proceeding to root through said corpse's pockets for money.
  • Lady Swears A Lot: Lisa.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Claymoore Hospital for McLean Hospital. Does not apply in the book (and seeing as it's a memoir, it doesn't have to).
  • Leave the Camera Running: Several scenes contain very long steadycam shots. The longest of which is the entire scene in which Susanna and Lisa talk to each other through a tiny window - the shot goes on for over a minute.
  • Mood-Swinger: Lisa. Her opening scene best illustrates this trait - she goes from cheerful and cocky upon returning to Claymoore, to a frightening rage when she discovers Susanna is Georgina's new roommate.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: It's a heartwarming feel-good story. Honest.
    • In addition, there is great exchange in the trailer that never made it into the finished film:
    Dr. Wick: Is there something about sex which lifts your feelings of despair?
    Susanna: Have you ever had sex?
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: M.G., short for "Martian's Girlfriend".
  • Parental Incest: Daisy and her father.
  • Parental Issues: Towards the end, Lisa, while ranting, claims that her own parents wish she was dead, presumably because of her illness.
  • The Pollyanna: Polly is almost always cheerful and friendly in spite of her situation.
  • The Problem with Pen Island: Lisa's "ther-rapist"; see Insistent Terminology above.
  • Race Lift: Valerie is white in the book. In the movie, she is played by Whoopi Goldberg.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lisa to Daisy (which is what finally tips Daisy over the edge), and later Susanna to Lisa (see Shut Up, Hannibal! below). Even earlier, Valerie gives one to Susanna after the latter refuses to leave her bed and starts acting increasingly like Lisa.
  • Robbing the Dead: Lisa does this to Daisy's corpse.
  • Self Harm: Susanna repeatedly bangs her inner wrist until it bruises in the novel (this is also implied at the beginning of the film), and Daisy cuts her arms in the film. In addition, a deleted scene shows that Lisa uses lit cigarettes to burn the image of a cat onto her arm - this is the reason she is always seen wearing a band over her forearm. It's also alluded to even further in the finished film when Daisy snaps "Look at your own arm, asshole!".
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Susanna to Lisa near the end of the film.
    Lisa: You know, there's too many buttons in the world. There's too many buttons and they're just - there's way too many just begging to be pressed, they're just begging to be pressed, you know? They're just - they're just begging to be pressed, and it makes me wonder, it really makes me fucking wonder, why doesn't anyone ever press mine? Why am I so neglected? Why doesn't anyone reach in and rip out the truth and tell me that I'm a fucking whore, or that my parents wish I were dead?
    Susanna: Because you're dead already, Lisa! No one cares if you die, Lisa, because you're dead already. Your heart is cold. That's why you keep coming back here. You're not free. You need this place, you need it to feel alive. It's pathetic.
  • The Sociopath: Lisa, literally, having been diagnosed as such.
  • Spoiled Brat: Daisy is darker example than most as her father, who spoils her so much, is also sexually abusing her. It is this that drives Daisy to self-harm and, eventually, suicide.
  • The Shrink: This is a mental hospital so of course there are these. There are several varieties. The two most notable in the film are Dr. Potts and Dr. Wick.
  • Stealth Pun: The film version of Daisy self harms, in a Period Piece that takes place at the time of The Vietnam War, no less.
  • Tempting Fate: Susanna asks if she can go home by Thanksgiving, and points out that she's improved quite a bit and that nothing's happened for weeks. And then Lisa's back.
  • Title Drop: In Susanna's opening narrative.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Happens during a flashback showing Susanna having her stomach pumped.
  • Wham Line:
    Daisy: My father loves me.
    Lisa: I bet. With every inch of his manhood.
    • Later, during the same scene:
    Lisa: And everybody knows. Everybody knows that he fucks you. What they don't know... is that you like it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: M.G. is last seen being taken away in a straitjacket due to a psychotic breakdown, and isn't present when Susanna is saying goodbye to the other patients at the end.

Ghostly RuinsNon-Fiction LiteratureThe Glass Castle
Ghost Dog: The Way of the SamuraiFilms of the 1990sGo
Ghosts 1993Literature of the 1990sThe Girls Series

alternative title(s): Girl Interrupted; Ptitlevwa7hlmu; Girl Interrupted
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
23447
31