Old Lady Movie Night: “Girl, Interrupted”

AND SO WE MEET AGAIN. I have begun taking active requests from everyone (leave ’em in the comments or send them to me via Twitter), because Old Lady Movie Night is for all of us. I mean, yes, I’m referring to myself as the Old Lady since I’m writing this from bed at 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday (EASTERN TIME) and waiting on a hot cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it belongs to any of you guys less.


However, sometimes the people get vetoed after certain writers named Anne T. Donahue realize they have yet to cover the movie they were obsessed with in high school the most. And that time, my friends, is now. (I love you.)

REAL TALK ALERT: here’s the thing. As some of you guys know, my teenage years were not a great time. I didn’t know how to function terrifically, I got picked on a lot, and my emotions were going haywire (#understatement). And if you were me, and not an adult, instead of communicating or thinking at all, you chose to cling to pop culture as a means of hope and/or understanding. Or in my case, you clung to Girl, Interrupted, and quoted it all the time, changed your ICQ name to Lisa, and wrote out the speech she gives Daisy before Daisy dies in your info box, as a means of … I’m not quite sure. Wanting attention, maybe? Not knowing how to express myself in a rational way? I blocked a lot of it out. (And I wish I was joking about that.) (Or joking about doing it at all. Like I said, I was in a weird place.)

Needless to say, I ended up switching high schools, and life quickly got better because of that. BUT I’m tired of pretending the Girl, Interrupted era didn’t happen. It did! If we can talk about house eggings, we can talk about this. But prepare yourselves: discussions will be had, and revelations will be made.


1. Disclaimer: if you’re feeling bad/sad/awful/anxious/etc., talk to someone.

I know you don’t need me to tell you this, but I’m going to: if you’re struggling with your mental health, or you feel sad, or you feel out of control, or you feel anything that makes your quality of life less, talk to someone. Anyone. You will feel better, even if it takes time. Personally, I think I clung to Girl, Interrupted because I knew something was going on in my own head, and watching it play out in movie form made it easier to deal with. So, I went to counselling all through high school, and now I still see my doctor to keep things in check.

SO this is me, watching a movie about mental health with you, and then reminding you that if you feel like you need to talk to someone about your own mental health, do it. The worst case scenario is that you feel better, or you take steps to ensure you’ll eventually feel better, I kid you not.

2. But on another topic, let’s just really admire Winona Ryder here for a second.

Like, I know Angelina Jolie got a lot of praise — aka AN OSCAR — for this movie, but Winona, you guys. WINONA. I am 27 years old, and I still deal with the fact that I will never be her. Well, yes, I can deal, because I’m an adult (WE’RE ALL ADULTS). But to be completely honest, I am incredibly jealous that she can wear horizontal stripes like she is in the scene that I’m watching, because SOME OF US CAN’T. Also, pixie cuts. Perhaps a look that would make me look worse than anyone on this planet. (Which I’ve made peace with, courtesy of grade five’s mushroom cut.)

3. So Susanna’s a high school senior, and her guidance counsellor is concerned about her future.

EVERY MOVIE, someone in the faculty is concerned about someone’s future. Did I just go to a terrible school? (Yes) Because aside from the mandatory college/university application process, NO ONE followed up on where anyone was going or why. Well, they probably did with the students who were doing the varsity thing, but the rest of us? Negatory, Big Ben. (Great phrase, courtesy of my mom who probably heard it from a friend.) Not to say my teachers/guidance counselors were negligent — just that they had 25925285 students to worry about, so why would they care where I was off to? YOU KNOW? BUELLER? (Where did he go to school, guys?)

4. This movie is mega-feminist and I had no idea.

BECAUSE I WAS TOO BUSY MEMORIZING LISA’S TRAUMATIZING SPEECHES. Susanna wants to be a writer, and she doesn’t want to be a housewife. And she’s challenging the status quo! Why didn’t I cling to that? Maybe this is an awesome movie for everyone, even grade nines in high school. Or at least read the book, all of us. Let’s at least read the book.

5. Remember how Elisabeth Moss has always been the best actress?

I know you do. Because you have to. We all have to. And did you know that she’s in this? DID YOU? DO YOU NOW? WHY CAN’T I STOP TYPING IN CAPS. Anyway, Elisabeth Moss is in this movie, and she plays Polly, a patient who set herself on fire and is now literally scarred for life. Basically, I figure, if you do not want to hug Polly OR Elisabeth, we are speaking two different languages, and I think also probably watching two different movies. I figure.

6. Here’s the thing about Lisa-

Angelina Jolie does an AMAZING job playing her. She is also such an interesting character, it’s astounding UNTIL you realize she is actually based on (or is) a real person, and that’s when she becomes totally phenomenal (albeit kind of terrifying sometimes but also so complex and kind, and oh my god, so much… everything) person. She commands it all. Obviously, as we all love Girl, Interrupted, we applaud her confrontations and her resistance and all of it, BUT let me just say that I know I would not be strong enough to face her, if push came to shove. When she confronts Susanna after arriving at the hospital? That would be it for me, I’d be gone. I would insist on hanging out only with Whoopi Goldberg, and you would have the most boring story to read/movie to watch in the entire world. Unless it was just about Lisa, and in that case, you wouldn’t be able to put it down.

7. Jared Leto is in this and he wears fake facial hair.

Specifically, a moustache. And that’s really all I’m going to say about that. That’s really all I NEED to say about that.

And also this. Two words: #NeverForget

8. Listen. I can’t be the only person who began saying “a–hole” in high school because of this movie.

I CAN’T BE. Am I? Am I the only one? Well, let’s just chalk it up to “roofus” and … any other slang you tried to make happen because you saw a movie when you were 14 years old. As for whether I still say it now? Well, obviously. But that’s because it’s my choice, and not because actors told me to.


I love that a bowling alley exists underground (WHY ISN’T IT BEING USED WHAT THE HELL), I love that adventure music was just playing, and I love that literally everyone is out having a good time. However, I’m not going to lie, I’d be so worried about getting caught that I probably wouldn’t have a terrific time. And by “not a terrific time” I mean “I probably wouldn’t go because I’d be afraid of getting into trouble.” And by that I mean “I’d probably still go, but would ask “Are we going to get in trouble?” a lot, and probably not be invited again because of that.”

10. But the only thing better than the bowling adventure is the ice cream adventure.

For many reasons. One being that ice cream is involved, and the other that Lisa totally has Susanna’s back. THERE ARE MORE REASONS. Those are just the two that are coming to mind right now.

11. Oh, and now Jared Leto wants Susanna to escape and then tells her the other patients aren’t her friend?!

WHAT THE WHAT, JARED LETO. You don’t know who is and who isn’t her friend! “THOSE girls?” he says, pointing to the ward. YEAH, JARED. THOSE ONES. The ones she’s been living with FOR A YEAR. Also, who are stand-up human beings, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I think SOMEBODY thinks he’s cool because he has a moustache. But do you know what? He is not, and those women are fierce dames.

12. It’s better to associate “Downtown” with this movie than the Skeeter Davis song.

And I say this from a place of love. I love Skeeter Davis, but it plays in a very sad, upsetting scene (that for some reason did not stop me from putting the lyrics in my ICQ info box during a few months in 1999), and “Downtown” is sung by Susanna and Lisa to cheer Elisabeth Moss up. One > other. Equally powerful, though, OBVIOUSLY.

13. None of us will ever be as good as a Redgrave.

And I said this last week, and I meant it, and now I mean it even more because Vanessa Redgrave is on my TV screen making us all look like dopes. Listen. Some people are just going to be better than us. And that’s okay. We can accept that. And as we accept that, we can embrace the Redgrave family stronger than we ever have before*.

*That sounded terrifying. It is not. I basically would just like to be an honorary Redgrave, so please, Redgraves, if you’re reading this, hello.

14. And nobody does a pep talk like Whoopi Goldberg.

NO ONE. “You are a lazy, self indulgent little girl who is driving herself crazy.” Can you imagine? I would feel like such a fool if Whoopi Goldberg said that to me after dropping me into the tub. I would probably get up and say, “Okay, yep. I am so sorry. You are glorious, and I need to get it together.”

And then we would just hang out on The View.

15. Everything about the Daisy situation makes me so sad.

To the point where we’re just going to leave this scene riiiight here, and avoid talking about it altogether. It’s heartbreaking, and it makes me cry EVERY TIME, and it also makes me miss Brittany Murphy because she was just SO GOOD. All of it. Sad. And too much.

Too. Much.

16. But if you weren’t crying yet, juuuust wait.

For Susanna to go back to the hospital with the cat, and then have all the women come into her room and just BE THERE for her. OH, THE TEARS. Elisabeth Moss is all, “Can I pet the kitty?” (which for some reason seems so lovely and said specifically to make you weep), and then they ALL pet the cat, and FRIENDSHIP. FRIENDS. PALS.

And then Val comes in, and she is the perfect person/nurse/mom. LET’S CRY, EVERYONE.

17. The thing is, there is some good advice being given.

So Susanna realizes she needs to use the place to begin to get better. And to express her thoughts, and to learn to communicate, and that is just good old-fashioned life advice. I don’t know about you guys, but I feel the more you grow up, the more you start to realize the situations you’re in can actually make you better and teach you things — even if those situations are crappy retail jobs while you’re trying to finish your undergrad.


18. Just hold on, though: it’s time to get severely stressed out again.

You’re all, “You’re doing it, Susanna! Getting out! Making it rain!” But then Lisa comes back. And that’s fine, but then she steals Susanna’s notebook and READS IT ALOUD. All of it. I don’t even have a journal, but I just imagined my gchat history being read, and that alone could send me into a cold sweat. IMAGINE. No. Don’t. It’s just as bad as when you send a message to someone that’s actually meant for someone else — and it is about the person you sent it to. That feeling. That feeling is what I have during this whole scene.


Correct! Because just when you were like, “How could I feel more stressed?” Susanna closes the door on her hand, and then Lisa has a total meltdown, and EVERYONE IS SOBBING INCLUDING US. Thank goodness it is not the last scene.

20. Because the last scene is beautiful.

And the tears switch from that of heartbreak to that of… something else. Happy tears? Yes. Except there’s a part of me that’s like, “But I’d love to see her still be friends with everyone!” And also, “Why can’t at the end, Susanna be like, ‘Polly went and did this’”? WHY.

But it’s fine. Confirmed: THEY WERE HER FRIENDS. (So take that, Jared Leto.) And confirmed again: “crazy” isn’t weird or bad. YOU DO YOU, is the point of Girl, Interrupted. But more importantly, “Take charge of your life, decide to live a good one, and if something’s wrong, choose to fix it.”

YOU DO YOU indeed. I bet Drake wishes he could’ve soundtracked this. (Don’t we all, Drake. Don’t we all.)


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