Take 4

Ayushi Y -

Hey Everyone!

This week’s blog post will focus on the movie Girl, Interrupted because it brought a lot of new information to think about for my project. This week I looked at reviews and scholarly articles regarding a few movies I have already watched and focused highly on Girl, Interrupted. A few of the reviews that stood out to me were:

  • Jeff Millar: Houston Chronicle – “The film generates real empathy, without too much let’s-laugh -at- the -crazy- people humor or too much stereotyping”
  • Chris Vognar: Dallas Morning News – “As we take our mental health for granted, Girl, Interrupted does justice to those who ultimately can’t.”
  • Jami Bernard: New York Daily News – “[Ryder] is often just a crumpled, listless figure on a bed, which, while true to the nature of depression, is not, cinematically speaking, the most arresting image.”
  • Jay Boyar: Orlando Sentinel – “Almost everyone here seems at least a little cartoon-like.”
  • David Ansen: Newsweek – “They’ve managed to avoid the usual asylum-movie cliches.”
  • Tom Coates: BBC.com – “You’re left wishing the film had a little more faith in its audience, for then this well-put-together movie might have provoked more thought and slightly less irritation.”

These are reviews from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes and as you can see, many have differing views regarding how the film portrayed mental health. This trend was similarly shown between the general audience’s reviews as well and makes me wonder: why do people perceive this film so differently? 

The portrayal of mental health institutions was another key point in this film because I wanted to see if treatments and diagnoses aligned with what we see in our hospitals today. According to many articles I read, the treatments and diagnoses were appropriate for the time when the film came out (1999) but not the time it was set in (1967). Borderline personality disorder wasn’t a clinical diagnosis in 1967 but the main character, Susanna Kaysen, is diagnosed with it. This led to the question, did the change in the time period between the setting of the movie and the time it came out lead to differences in how the movie was shown versus the real-life experience? You can read more about this controversy in this article: https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.51.4.536

Thank you for reading this week’s post, I will try to get more information regarding these questions this week.

Ayushi Yadav

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    Hi Ayushi! With the knowledge you have right now, how would you answer the question "why do people perceive this film so differently?" Also, what did you think of the movie in terms of its portrayal of mental health.
    Hi Ayushi, how do you personally feel about the portrayal of mental health in this movie? Do you agree with any of the reviewers?
    Hi Ayushi, great point about how the setting of the movie, when it was released and when it was viewed may all impact how mental health is portrayed and perceived in the movie. Do you think the view of mental health in the reviews may also be impacted by the editorial stances of the newspaper or media outlets the reviewers publish for?
    Hey Sowmithra! I think that people percieve the films differently based on the amount of knowledge they have on the topic. When I was looking at the reviews, more Top Critics were reluctant about the movie's portrayal of mental health while the general audience generally thought that it did great in illustrating mental illnesses.
    Hi Nithya, I personally think that for the time period it came out in, the movie did a decent job of portraying mental illnesses. I like the fact that they tried to show different forms of mental illness, although I do believe that they were exaggerated.
    Hi Ms. Bennett! As I was looking at the reviews, I thought that one of the impacts of the differing viewpoints would be the time that the reviews were published. Older reviews were more likely to be supportive of the film while newer ones were more skeptical. I do believe that the editorial stances of the newspaper may impact the top critic reviews although I haven't done much research on that yet. I will try to look into that more!

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