Posted by noa on January 17, 2000, at 16:37:42
In reply to Re: Movies--girl, interrupted, posted by juniper on January 17, 2000, at 14:49:16
I had hoped to get to read the book before the movie, but went to see the movie on a whim. Not having read it, I don't know if you will be frustrated by the book=>movie transformation.
I have been thinking about the movie more. I liked it, primarily because the acting was very good, so I cared about the characters. But there is something unsettling about the gestalt of the film, the big picture, how the essential conflicts are resolved. I guess I shouldn't get so hung up on this because the conflicts were within and among the patients, and the staff and hospital play a very minor role. They are just a backdrop, in fact.
What is bugging me is this impression that the main character gets better because she "gets with the program", rather than fighting it. But we never really find out what led her to have the problems she has. We see her struggling to define herself through her relationships with those around her--in the hospital. But we never really see or hear why she is such a mixed up, depressed kid. And, although they hint at family tendencies (I think the line is, "Borderlines are five times more likely to have an immediate family member, usually a parent, who is borderline"), biology is not on the table at all. So the idea is that this mixed up kid developed her problems environmentally and will recover through psychoanalysis. Ok, assuming for the sake of the film we accept this, we don't really learn more about her problems. We don't even get to eavesdrop on the analysis sessions even though we see them (we dont hear what she says).
In the end, it really seems more like a movie about adolescence and coming of age than about mental illness. And maybe it is a true portrait of how young people make the decisions they make.
Here's the thing: Despite how well portrayed the action among the patients is, it is the message hovering in the background that bothers me: In this movie the message is that the powerless need to accept what the powerful have to offer. Fighting it means death, either sudden or drawn out. This is classic conservative hollywoodism, although subdued, thankfully, by being in the background, while the really intersting stuff is in the foreground. I should say here that I would not want a classic Disneyesque, puss-in-boots type story, either, where the powerless triumph ever so tritely over the powerful.