After a half-hearted suicide attempt with a bottle of aspirin, Suzanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder), under pressure from her parents, admits herself into the Claymore Psychiatric Hospital. Diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder, which is modern lingo for mild depression and the inability to get her act together to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up. Big deal.
Immediately upon arrival she’s pumped up with more drugs than the neighborhood drug addict and told to play nice with the other girls, a bunch of more serious losers, only two of which have any dimension or significant screen time to speak of. That would be the angry, calculating and coldhearted Lisa (Angelina Jolie, looking unbelievably anoxeic and that’s not even her problem!) and Daisy, Daddy’s little incest-victim.
The movie’s made out to be kind of an all-girl “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” without the dynamics of interesting characters or powerful performances. Jolie, in fact, comes closest to giving anything even remotely interesting. I don’t consider Ryder an especially compelling performer and her role here is rather boring, I guess to match her borderline personality.
The bored and boring Suzanna manages to bond somewhat with the crazy Lisa and what we get is a lot of patient shenanigans: running around the halls late at night, pocketing medication, a group outing for ice cream and a couple of escapes. Somewhere in all of this Suzanna gets to figure out a little bit about mental illness, who’s sane and who’s not and that she really doesn’t belong there. But, when she does leave there you really don’t get the feeling that she’s ready for the world any better than when she went in.
Also features Whoopi Goldberg as head nurse Valerie and Vanessa Redgrave in a small role as the chief doctor of the facility.
Lotta says Jolie’s the one to watch; Ryder, cast as the star is a snore.