Quite often, a performance can elevate a movie from being something average to something enjoyable and even entertaining. In "Girl, Interrupted", we have two performances that help the film rise above something that could have been certainly less than enjoyable. The film stars Winona Ryder(who also produced the film) as Susanna Kaysen, a young woman who attempts suicide and is sent to a mental hospital for 18 months; "Girl, Interrupted"(based on Kaysen's novel), is her story.
It's there that she meets a number of girls she will eventually become friends with. First, her roommate Georgina(Clea Duvall), who like Susanna, seems pretty normal. We also meet Daisy(Brittany Murphy of "Clueless") and Polly. Of course, there's the final character of the film that makes an impact; Lisa(Angelina Jolie), the wild child of the institution. As the film goes on, we flash back and forth between the events that led up to Susanna's placing herself in the ward, and the stories that happen during her time there.
The film is, of course, a character piece. As that, the film could have benefitted from a couple of things; a little more inventive and energetic camerawork, and maybe some trimming down from the long 127 minute running time. Still, Mangold certainly has experience dealing with these kind of set-ups from his past work, which includes "Copland" and the independent drama "Heavy".
Again, it's the performances that really liven the film. Ryder underplays nicely without becoming too stiff; Jolie provides the energy and a few funny moments. "Girl, Interrupted" isn't a bad film, but a few little touches and upping the pace a little bit could have taken it from good to great.
VIDEO: The majority of the presentation from Tristar looks wonderful, but I had a few very minor reservations about the image quality. Problems certainly aren't with sharpness or detail, which are both excellent throughout the presentation; even the darker scenes in the film contain a strong amount of detail. Colors really aren't that bright, with a subdued look to most of the film; seemed accurate to the intent of the film and without any problems. Flesh tones are natural, as well.
There are only a few minor flaws that crept up now and then. A tiny bit of grain and occasionally, minor traces of shimmering. That's about it; otherwise, this lives up to the studio's reputation of excellent transfers.
SOUND: You'd expect this to be a completely dialogue driven film(and really, I probably would too), but it actually does open up a little at times. Surround use is subtle but enjoyable, and the score sounds light and airy, well intengrated into the proceedings. Dialogue is clear and easily understood, as well.
MENUS:: The main menu is essentially recycling the cover art; as usual, Paramount has used non-animated main menus.
Commentary: This is a commentary track from director James Mangold, who also did a commentary for his film "Heavy", from Tristar. He starts off the discussion with quite an informative bit about the writing of the screenplay, talking about how the novel had to be translated into the screenplay for the film. His tone for the commentary is pretty relaxed, but he does share a lot of information about the process that it took to make this film.
On this track, Mangold pretty much plays the role of tour guide, taking us behind-the-scenes in the story, talking about Kaysen's real-life story versus the screenplay, and also, what it was like working with the actresses. He does tend to go a little much into the praise of the people he worked with at times, but he usually pairs this praise with some information on how these people contributed to the picture.
There are a few moments of silence during the commentary, but for the most part, Mangold offers quite a bit of information that I found interesting about his viewpoint on the process of not only directing this film, but writing the screenplay. He covers both technical aspects and storytelling very well, and it makes for an engaging commentary that I enjoyed.
HBO First Look: Girl, Interrupted: Pretty much a promotional piece, this documentary offers interviews with Susana Kaysen, Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder, along with other members of the cast and crew. There's not that much information here, just interviews between clips from the movie.
Deleted Scenes: There are 5 deleted scenes in the film which total about 17 minutes. Although there are a couple of interesting moments contained, most of these scenes are rightly cut (and probably also cut due to the running time). Still, as always, deleted scenes like these are a nice addition. Optional commentary by Director James Mangold details why these scenes were deleted.
Trailers: Trailer for "Girl Interrupted"(Dolby Digital 5.1/letterboxed) as well as trailers for "Foxfire", "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "Little Women".
Also: talent files, isolated score.
Final Thoughts: If you liked the film, Tristar's DVD is definitely worth a look; if you haven't seen the film, it's certainly worth checking out as a rental.