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Girl Interrupted

             The movie Girl Interrupted, directed by James Mangold, is based upon the book of the same title by Susanna Kaysen. Girl Interrupted is about mental illness and the fight for self realization. The role society has defined for the main character, Susanna Kaysen, is a portrayal of a woman searching for the true meaning of life in a mental hospital. She is a woman who wants to be a writer, rather than fall in the footsteps of her homemaker mother. She is institutionalized not for being clinically insane but because she doesn't fit into the role that society has defined for her in the 1960's and thus she has turned in on herself by attempting to commit suicide. The central focus of the story is the actual institutionalization of the writer and her first hand accounts of life in a mental institution. Mangold handles the movie with extreme sensitivity as he chose to highlight several details to emphasize how the patients cope with the use and abuse of drug treatment in the facility.
             First, Mangold depicts Susanna as an unsympathetic protagonist. She is a teenager just out of high school that hasn't a clue as to what she is feeling, or where she is going. She is having premarital sex and didn't enter into college like most of her peers had during the Vietnam War, so her peers and elders see her as a problem. However, Susanna feels that she is the only sane person within miles. She can't seem to understand why she must take the medications given by the nurse. Mangold brings us this disturbing look into a young woman's mind. .
             Another detail is the use of the sterile halls of an up-scale mental hospital to portray the cold atmosphere of the institution. All of the women are given medications daily and nightly. They do not have the option to refuse their medications. They are warned about being "difficult" for even questioning what medication is for. It seems to be the goal of the staff to sedate the patients as much as possible to keep them from being any trouble.

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