“Normal” is such an overrated state of mind. It’s unbelievably hard to find one person, one family, or one thing that’s “normal” these days. From the guy at your bus stop to all those people who want to be President, we’re all slightly strange, odd, and even a little crazy. With that said, I’ll admit that one of my favorite films happens to be the craziest of them all: Girl, Interrupted.
Girl, Interrupted tells the true story of Susanna Kaysen’s (portrayed by Winona Ryder) year-long stay in a woman’s mental hospital during the late 1960s. The 60’s was a decade of change, revolution, war, women’s rights, and some pretty epic fashion statements. Susanna who suffers from “borderline personality disorder” finds herself incarcerated in a mental hospital. But in many ways she’s more comfortable there than she was in the “normal” world.
Susanna is a somewhat typical portrait of a woman of the 60’s but the world was not as tolerant back then as we like to think it was. She didn’t go to go to college, for one thing. She wanted to be a writer and not a homemaker. In the era of “free love” she was called promiscuous, and most of all she had a very androgynous sense of style.
The films darker moments deal with many different topics. It shines light on race, gender, mental health, and the journey to self-discovery and identity. But I think most viewers and critics overlook the use of style in this film.
Winona Ryder’s character has a Mia Farrow “Rosemary’s Baby” pixie hair cut that shows off and highlights Ryder’s natural beautiful sharp bone structure, giving her an opportunity to express a wider range of emotions. She is never seen in a dress; she’s always in paler khakis or corduroys paired with vertical-striped, French-inspired shirts, which emphasize how small and fragile she is.
The fashion also hints at the diagnoses of the other characters. Georgina Tuskin (Clea DuVall), a pathological liar who lives in a world of OZ, wears bright colors and Dorothy-inspired bibbed shirts. Polly “Torch” Clark (Elisabeth Moss), a burn victim who is so desperate to remain a child, wears girly fringed baby-doll dress and painfully sweet sweaters. Daisy Randone (Brittany Murphy), a lost girl who wants nothing more to be the ideal weight, is a prim and proper young lady with perfectly curled hair and modest necklines.
Then there’s the wild card: Lisa Rowe, (played by Angelina Jolie) a sociopath who measures her worth in sex appeal. She is a hard rocker in low-rise jeans, a t-shirt, and stringy, bleached blonde hair.
The movie itself is a gallery of under loved mistakes, filled with shots that turn nature into these strange and twisted works of art. Girl, Interrupted is a coming of age tale and an authentic to show how difficult it can be to reclaim your own life.
*Photo layout by the very brilliant Phaymiss.
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