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(1999) (Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Smoking Tense Family
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Drama: A teen and those attending to her try to figure out whether she's truly crazy or just confused as she spends time in a psychiatric hospital during the 1960s.
It's the late 1960s and 17-year-old Susanna Kaysen (WINONA RYDER) has just tried to kill herself with an overdose of aspirin. Unsure of herself and the rapidly changing world around her, Susanna agrees to admit herself into Claymoore Hospital, a psychiatric institute for troubled young women.

There she meets head nurse Valerie (WHOOPI GOLDBERG), as well as her "Wizard of Oz" obsessed roommate, Georgina (CLEA DUVALL). She also meets Polly (ELISABETH MOSS) a young woman who previously tried to burn off half her face and Daisy (BRITTANY MURPHY), a pampered "daddy's girl" with a thing for saving rotisserie chicken carcasses under her bed.

It's Lisa (ANGELINA JOLIE), however, who most fascinates and intimidates Susanna. A charming, but rebellious delinquent, Lisa's repeatedly busted out of Claymore. Upon her latest return she teaches Susanna "the ropes" about how to survive in such an institution and deal with the psychiatrists there, including Dr. Potts (JEFFREY TAMBOR) and Dr. Wick (VANESSA REDGRAVE).

They try to make sense of Susanna's behavior that includes her promiscuous ways with Tobias Jacobs (JARED LETO), a would-be draft dodger, as well as the husband of one of her former classmates and one of the institution's orderlies.

As Susanna's friendships and deep bonds with the girls grow, she must try to sort out her sanity and place in the world, while also dealing with the increasingly volatile Lisa who may yet get her into even greater trouble.

Unless they're fans of Ryder, Jolie or of the source novel, it's not very likely.
For strong language and content relating to drugs, sexuality and suicide
  • WINONA RYDER plays troubled young woman who tried to kill herself before the story begins and thus commits herself into a psychiatric facility. There, she continues with her promiscuous ways, while also using strong profanity, near continuously smokes, and briefly smokes a joint.
  • ANGELINA JOLIE plays her new friend, a sociopath who seems to revel in stirring up trouble. Beyond repeatedly escaping from the facility, she also uses strong profanity and smokes.
  • WHOOPI GOLDBERG plays the tough, but kind head nurse who tries to keep order and briefly uses some profanity.
  • BRITTANY MURPHY plays one of the patients, a spoiled "daddy's girl" who uses profanity, has a thing for keeping chicken carcasses under her bed, reportedly is involved in an incestuous affair with her father, and eventually commits suicide.
  • ELISABETH MOSS plays a young woman who previously set her face on fire.
  • JARED LETO plays a guy enamored with Susanna who cusses some, sleeps with her, and wants her to run away with him to Canada as he dodges the draft.
  • JEFFREY TAMBOR and VANESSA REDGRAVE play doctors who try to help Susanna and the other patients.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is extreme with more than 50 "f" words being used along with other profanities and colorful phrases. The beginning of some sexually related behavior is seen, other is implied, and some sexually related dialogue takes place, including that related to allegations of incest.

    A character commits suicide (with somewhat bloody results) and we learn that the protagonist tried the same before the story begins. As such, she admits herself to a psychiatric facility where she meets varying degrees of disturbed young women. Some moments there may be tense or unsettling for some viewers, and varying degrees of bad attitudes are present among various characters.

    The protagonist also smokes throughout the film, as do some other characters, while some drinking and brief drug use also occurs. Since some teens may wish to see this picture due to the presence of Ryder and Jolie, you may want to take a closer look at our more detailed content listings should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for them or anyone in your home.

  • People have drinks at a party.
  • A doctor asks Susanna if she's stoned, smokes pot, or takes LSD and she says that she doesn't.
  • We hear that Susanna downed her overdose of aspirin with vodka.
  • Sedatives are given to the patients.
  • People have drinks at a party seen in a flashback.
  • After Lisa and Susanna escape from the institution, some guys pick them up who smoke a joint and then pass it around to everyone else. They then go to a party where people drink beer and do bong hits.
  • We hear Susanna vomiting and then see a tube being put down her throat and a needle into her arm in the emergency room after she's overdosed.
  • Polly has severe scars on her face from where she set it on fire years earlier.
  • We see a former inmate who's committed suicide by hanging herself and there's blood dripping from her hand.
  • We learn that Susanna was having an affair with a married man and Lisa later taunts the man's wife over that.
  • Led by Lisa, the girls sneak off at night and roam the bowels of the building and then sneak into Potts' office where they read his files on them.
  • Some may see Tobias as having both for trying to dodge the military draft by going to Canada.
  • Some may see the nurses/orderlies as having some of both for the way they treat the girls.
  • Susanna makes a racially derogatory comment toward Valerie, who's black.
  • Lisa and Susanna break out of the institution. Later at a party, Lisa steals a guy's wallet. She later does the same from a dead girl who's just committed suicide.
  • Visiting Daisy, Lisa won't give her a break and continues to verbally abuse her.
  • The implication is made that Daisy's father has set her up in her own place so that he can have sex with her.
  • We hear Susanna vomiting and then see a tube being put down her throat and a needle into her arm in the emergency room after she's overdosed.
  • Visiting a former patient, Susanna goes looking for the girl in her house, only to eventually find that she's killed herself in the bathroom. As such, we see the girl who's committed suicide by hanging herself and there's blood dripping from her hand.
  • Susanna goes looking for her cat deep in the bowels of the building where she encounters Lisa and some of the other patients (with Lisa behaving menacingly toward her). As Susanna then tries to find her way out of the labyrinth of hallways, Lisa slowly pursues her.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Shut the f*ck up," "F*ck his brains out," "Hand job" and "Blow job" (all sexual), "Freak," "Bitch" and "Idiot."
  • We learn that before the story began Susanna tried to kill herself via an aspirin overdose. Later, a former patient kills herself in her bathroom and earlier showed signs/marks on her wrists that she had tried the same sometime in the past.
  • None.
  • A mild amount of ominous music plays in a few scenes.
  • None.
  • At least 57 "f" words (2 used sexually), 12 "s" words, 4 slang terms for/using male genitals ("d*ck" and "p*cker"), 7 asses (all used with "hole"), 3 hells, and 2 uses each of "Oh my God," "Oh God" and "Oh Christ," and 1 use each of "G-damn," "My God," "For Christ's sakes," "Oh Jesus" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • We see Susanna and Tobias in bed under the sheets after apparently having sex.
  • A nurse talks to Lisa about her boyfriend and bashfully can't finish what he wants her to do, so Lisa chimes in "F*ck his brains out. Use a rubber."
  • Lisa briefly mentions "a bald guy with a little p*cker."
  • As Susanna reads from her case record, she comments on it mentioning promiscuity and "casual sex" and then questions, "What kind of sex isn't casual?" She then goes on to add that she's not promiscuous.
  • While in an ice cream parlor, Lisa suggestively licks/sucks on a cherry to get the attention of the young man behind the counter.
  • After a woman confronts Susanna about fooling around with her husband, Lisa states, "She gave your husband a hand job, big f*cking deal" and then goes on that he was begging for it.
  • Tobias visits Susanna and we then see them making out in her room with her starting to undo his belt (after she states that they have a certain number of minutes before the "guard" comes back). We then see him on top of her with his pants down (he's still in his boxers), but don't see any movement or nudity as they're then interrupted.
  • Susanna pulls one of the orderlies down on top of her on the floor and begins kissing him. Although we don't know if anything else happens, the next morning we see them sleeping on the floor (fully clothed).
  • Susanna asks Wick how many guys she'd have to sleep with to be considered promiscuous. She then turns the question around and applies it to any guy. This is after Wick implies that Susanna fooled around with Tobias and then kissed the orderly in the same day. A comment is then made about "giving my boyfriend a blow job."
  • Susanna gives Lisa a quick kiss that's a bit beyond a friend's simple peck.
  • The implication is made that Daisy's father has set her up in her own place so that he can have sex with her and Lisa makes a comment about "every inch of his manhood." She then says "Everybody knows that he f*cks you. What everybody doesn't know is that you like it."
  • Susanna smokes more then ten times and Lisa smokes more than five. Meanwhile, various other patients smoke, Valerie, Potts and Wick each smoke once and some miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • A woman learns that Susanna was having an affair of sorts with her husband (but we don't see her confront him about that).
  • Susanna's parents worry about her.
  • Suicide.
  • Mental institutions and those who stay or are incarcerated in them.
  • Whether Susanna was crazy or not.
  • Some orderlies drag Lisa away as she kicks at them.
  • There's talk that Lisa's friend committed suicide.
  • Lisa slaps Georgina.
  • A former patient kills herself in her bathroom (we don't see the act, just her body).
  • Susanna accidentally smashes her hand with a sliding door.

  • Reviewed December 10, 1999 / Posted January 14, 2000

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