An American psychological drama, ‘Girl Interrupted’ follows the story of an 18-year-old girl named Susanna Kaysen, essayed by Winona Ryder, who is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. The film explores Kaysen’s 18-month stay at a mental hospital. Based on the Susanna Kaysen’s memoir ‘Girl, Interrupted’, the film explores life in mental hospitals with compassion and empathy. Directed by James Mangold and co-written by Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan and Mangold, the film received lukewarm response from critics and audience. With a mediocre rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is often seen as a pretty average piece of work. However, ‘Girl, Interrupted’ – although not a classic – boasts of some resonating performances, most notably Angelina Jolie’s performance as fellow inmate Lisa Rowe, for which she bagged an Oscar.
For this article, I have taken into account films which have narrative traits that are similar to ‘Girl Interrupted’. All the following films are set within the premise of a mental institution and use it as a major plot device. Some belong to the genre of horror, some are dramas while others are comedies. With all that said now, here’s the list of best movies similar to ‘Girl, Interrupted’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Girl, Interrupted’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
10. Man Facing Southeast (1986)
Directed by Argentine filmmaker Eliseo Subiela, ‘Man Facing Southeast’ is a science fiction drama about Rantés, essayed by Hugo Soto, a man committed to a mental hospital who claims to be an alien. The film delves deep into his claims, examining the truth behind it. The screenplay is written by Eliseo Subiela. ‘Man Facing Southeast’ is built on an absurdist premise and is executed with remarkable finesse. Accepted at the Academy Awards as a nominee for the “Best Foreign Language Film” category, ‘Man Facing Southeast’ might not be the most cohesive film ever, but it is surely an interesting watch.
9. Unsane (2018)
The most recent release on the list, ‘Unsane’ is a psychological horror film directed by American filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and co-written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer. The film follows Sawyer Valentini, essayed by Claire Foy, a young woman who is involuntarily admitted to a mental institution. There, she is challenged by her greatest fear as her sanity gets questioned. One of the most distinctive features of ‘Unsane’ is that it is shot on an iPhone 7 Plus. The film itself is a departure from Soderbergh’s archetypal narratives. It is disturbing and unsettling. Foy takes the lead in executing Soderbergh’s vision with competence. Although the film wasn’t popular among the ranks of the horror genre, ‘Unsane’ is definitely a film one should check out.
8. Harvey (1950)
A comedy-drama, ‘Harvey’ follows Elwood P. Dowd, essayed by James Stewart, who believes that he has an invisible six-foot-tall rabbit for a best friend named the titular “Harvey”. Termed to be insane, his family sends him to a sanatorium where his tale starts off. Directed by German filmmaker Henry Koster, ‘Harvey’ is extremely funny and whimsical. Adapted from American journalist and playwright Mary Chase’s Pulitzer winning play of the same name (1944), the film was received positively by critics and audience. While the lead actor bagged a couple of nominations for his performance, Josephine Hull won “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” awards at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. ‘Harvey’ is often cited as one of the best American comedies of all time.
7. Bedlam (1946)
Directed by Canadian filmmaker Mark Robson, ‘Bedlam’ is set 1761 London, where Nell Bowen, essayed by Anna Lee, the energetic protégé of rich Lord Mortimer, played by Billy House, becomes fixated in the exposing the conditions of notorious of Bethlehem Asylum. In an attempt to do so, he is admitted in the asylum by the villainous Master Sims under a false accusation. The film was the last production in a series of stylish horror B flicks made by Russian-American film producer Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures. It is a slick thriller which relies on the atmospherics to give out the chills. The film uses the setting of a mental institution resourcefully and inventively. If you are looking for films with a haunting ambience, then ‘Bedlam’ is the one to go for.
6. I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006)
A South Korean romantic comedy, ‘I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK’ follows Park Il-soon, a young girl who thinks she is a “combat cyborg”. After admitting herself into a mental hospital, she interacts with other psychotic patients and ultimately falls for a fellow patient who thinks that he has the ability to “steal people’s souls”. Directed by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook and co-written by Lee Chun-yeong and Chan-wook, the absurd premise is filled with wit and humour. Though the film did not do well commercially, it is a movie that delivers excellently on its subject and thus, is a must watch.
5. Brainstorm (2000)
Adapted from Brazilian author Austregésilo Carrano Bueno’s book ‘Canto dos Malditos’ (1990), ‘Brainstorm’ is a drama about Neto, essayed by Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro, a young man who is admitted to a psychiatric hospital after his father discovers he is a marijuana addict. Once admitted, Neto is subjected to immense abuse and torture. The film chronicles his horrifying experiences. Directed by Laís Bodanzky and written by Luiz Bolognesi, the narrative explores the themes of alienation, abuse and the strenuous filial relationship between father and their sons. While the reviews of the film were mixed amongst international critics, ‘Brainstorm’ is undeniably a strong and impactful film which is credited to the atmospheric cinematography by Hugo Kovensky and the resonating background score by composer André Abujamra.
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4. The Snake Pit (1948)
Directed by Russian filmmaker Anatole Litvak, ‘The Snake Pit’ is a film-noir chronicling the life of Virginia Cunningham, essayed by Olivia de Havilland, a schizophrenic inmate who is admitted at a mental institution. Adapted from American novelist Mary Jane Ward’s autobiographical book of the same name, which was published in 1948, the film was one of the first works about mental illness, a factor which helped it gain attention. The film, as the title suggests, concerns with the apathy, ignorance and the inhumane look at mental patients. It was nominated at a couple of award ceremonies, winning an Academy Award for “Best Sound, Recording”.
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3. Shock Corridor (1963)
Written and directed Samuel Fuller, ‘Shock Corridor’ is a drama film that follows Johnny Barrett, essayed by American actor Peter Breck, a journalist who admits himself in a mental institution to solve a strange and unclear murder in an attempt to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. The film is a quite an interesting take on the genre focusing its narrative on mental illness and mental institutions as it cerebrally subverts the archetypes of such storytelling. Here, instead of looking at the subject from a patient’s perspective, Fuller places the lens on a sane character and further explores the themes of mania and fixation which lead to insanity. The film has scored a high percentage at Rotten Tomatoes – 94% – and has been a subject of immense praise from critics and filmmakers.
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2. Shutter Island (2010)
Directed by Martin Scorsese, ‘Shutter Island’ is a neo-noir psychological thriller about two U.S. Marshals named Edward “Teddy” Daniels and Chuck Aule, essayed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, who travel to Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of an inmate and murderer who has escaped the hospital. Based on American author Dens Lehane’s book of the same name, which was published in 2003, the film is built on the haunting cinematography by Robert Richardson. In addition, Scorsese’s able hands help to adapt the book on the big screen with ease and the performance by the ever reliable DiCaprio, Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley just add to the film’s class.
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1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is constructed by the cumulative hard work by Czech filmmaker Miloš Forman, actors Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher and screenwriters Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman – who made the “Big Five” win at the Academy Awards. The film, adapted from American novelist Ken Kesey’s book of the same name, which was published in 1962, follows Randle McMurphy, a new patient admitted at a mental hospital who takes upon himself to start a rebellion with his fellow inmates and overthrow the imposing Nurse Ratched. A comedy-drama by genre, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ explores themes of authority, love and compassion.
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