Review: 'Girl, Interrupted' Is The Mental Health Movie We Needed

'Girl, Interrupted' Is The Under-Appreciated Movie Adaptation We All Needed

"Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy."

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"Girl, Interrupted" is a wistfully insightful account on the arduous journey through the realms of mental illness, often pulling the strings of introspection.

In the midst of Spring 1967, while her peers are finding their feet and making arrangements for college, Susanna Kaysen has lost her way and is committed to Claymore, the local, though reputable, mad-house. Based on the best-selling 1993 memoir by American Author Susanna Kaysen, "Girl, Interrupted" illustrates the 18 months that was spent within the care of Claymore; creating bonds, breaking them, straying from sanity and then fighting for freedom from the clutches of the malady.

Upon the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, Susanna (Winona Ryder) ventures with the aid of her journal and newly ignited friendships, altering her kaleidoscopic view on reality, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of the illness and where it stems from.

Rebel misfit Lisa, (Angelina Jolie) temporarily invokes this within Susanna, claiming with jubilation how life on the inside gives you freedom. She finds her place amongst the inmates quickly, with regard to the face of innocence, Polly (Elizabeth Moss), the deeply troubled, though also somewhat childlike, Daisy (Brittany Murphy) who likes her father's rotisserie chicken and Georgina (Clea Duvall), Susanna's new room-mate who dreams of living in Oz. Their loving and warm, but savage supervising nurse played aptly by Whoopie Goldberg, sees the progression of Susanna's condition and is not afraid to say it as it is.

The beginning of the film juts back and forth to different moments in time, as it would do for Susanna in her mind. The existence of the upper-class system is evident from the offset when we are introduced to a family party held for Susanna's father. Perhaps as an ephemeral release from her hopelessness and lethargy, Susanna self-medicates to counteract this with regular sexual activity, our first insight into this when we see Susanna urging off her father's business partner at the birthday party.

Disputably, Claymore's female psychiatrist (Vanessa Redgrave) deems this behavior as "promiscuity," which from an early-rising feminist standpoint, Susanna challenges, and in my opinion, rightly so.

"How many guys would I have to sleep with to be considered promiscuous, text book promiscuous? Ten, eight, five. And how many girls would a guy my age have to sleep with to be promiscuous? Ten? Twenty? A hundred and nine?"

Promiscuity becomes the theme of Susanna's diagnosis, alongside ambivalence, even though it could now be seen as the beginning of women's sexual revolution.

Lead actress, Winona Ryder, plays an exceedingly progressive and convincing role as doe-eyed Susanna Kaysen, so much so that I feel we experience the full tempestuous spectrum of her predicament. What is surprising albeit not incomprehensible, though, is the main possessor of nominations and awards out of the entire adaptation is our supporting actress, Angelina Jolie. Where Winona possesses a kind of quiet strength of character, Angelina captivates the audience with her steely stare and poignant dialogue. This, I believe, could only ever have been depicted by her. No other actor, in my opinion, would have done Lisa's character justice.

James Mangold is known for his dark and brooding though pragmatic approach to directing. Some of his most highly esteemed and nominated films being "Logan" (2017), "The Wolverine" (2013) and "Walk the Line" (2005). Mangold, though only winning twice, was nominated seven times for the Best Adapted Screenplay for "Logan." however there are no known nominations or awards for his direction of "Girl, Interrupted." This is a shame, in my opinion, as he captures the unspoken moments of an illness that can not be verbalized, painting a picture for us to analyze in our own terms.

A masterpiece in my mind; the magic being in the slow coming on of awareness that awakens us to the knowledge that mental illness is everything that me and you experience, only amplified. None of us are immune. The beauty of the mind and its complex disposition and how it is something to be marveled at and worked with, not undermined.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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The Original Disney Princesses Are Just As Important To Young Children As The New Ones Are

The animated princesses have paved the way for children in ways the live-action films sometimes can't.

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Disney Princesses, particularly the animated ones, have somewhat of a stereotype built around them.

When people think of Disney Princesses, they usually think of the classic princesses from the 1930s through the 1950s, the Golden Age of Disney. They think of Snow White's high-pitched voice, Cinderella's passive nature, and Aurora's tendency to waltz through the woods singing a pretty little song. These were the original princesses, and they definitely started a trend of delicate characters who aren't entirely helpless, but they also aren't too willing to advocate for themselves and fight for what they want.

The Disney Renaissance, however, brought about a whole new world (yes, that was intended) of Disney Princesses.

In 1989, Disney kicked off their animation Renaissance with the release of The Little Mermaid, a film which introduced an entirely new Disney Princess. Ariel was stubborn, got into serious trouble at times, was endlessly curious and amazed by the world around (and above) her, and was more than willing to fight for what she wanted. She still maintained her status as a princess, but that wasn't her only personality trait.

And the stereotypes kept breaking more and more with the introduction of two new princesses, Belle and Jasmine. They both followed Ariel's example of being more than just a pretty face in their own ways. Belle was the most beautiful girl in her village, but she didn't allow that to define her. She was well-read, confident, loyal, and desired nothing more than adventure. Jasmine, on the other hand, was the daughter of a Sultan and was forced to choose a prince to marry. But she wanted no part in this, and she set out to find herself and married the man she chose for herself. She was fiercely independent and didn't let anyone stand in her way.

I recently read an article about how the live-action remakes of Disney films are giving Disney princesses like Belle and Jasmine entirely new roles and how they're better role models for girls than ever before. While I do agree that young girls who go to see the remakes of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast in theaters will definitely have good role models to look up to, we really shouldn't be dismissing the original princesses, either.

These new Disney princesses are not replacements for the old ones. Just because the old princesses don't have as much of a "strong independent woman" complex about them doesn't mean they still can't teach important lessons to young children. Yes, the original Belle and Jasmine may not have been as outspoken as they are in the new remakes, but they always had a quiet strength about them and a certainty in who they were. This is just as good of a lesson to teach young children.

One of the most important lessons a child can learn is to be themselves in all parts of life, no matter how many people may think they're strange. Both versions of Belle and Jasmine teach this lesson, but as we start to move into an era where children may grow up with the remakes instead of the originals, it's also extremely important that they learn the lessons the original Belle and Jasmine taught us in the first place. Sometimes, a person doesn't need to be incredibly outspoken in order to be who they are. Sometimes, all they need is a good head on their shoulders, a joyful heart, and quiet confidence in themselves to live the life they've always dreamt of.

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