Movies like Girl, Interrupted

Jeff Richey


Jeff, TV analyst for WatchTVAbroad hails from Pennsylvania, United States and after growing up disinterested in sport found his sport calling in his late teenage years. Now he loves nothing more than streaming boxing, MMA and other combat sports.

The matters involving mental health have been dismissed and pushed aside for decades and even centuries.

However, this topic finally stopped being taboo with the start of the 21st century, so naturally, an entire flood of films dealing with the topic followed.

One that caught my eye is Girl, Interrupted, set in the harsh world of the late 1960s. It shows Susanna Kaysen’s prescribed “short rest” from a psychiatrist that she only met once in her life.

However, the experience becomes a strange journey into Alice’s Wonderland, where she struggles to determine what is real and what is not, suffering from a borderline personality disorder.

Before long, Susanna realized that getting out after being committed following her suicide attempt is next to impossible, and she finds herself at the crossroad, having to choose between the worlds of people who belong inside and the outside world, which is much more difficult to handle, and has its own power dynamics.

The film was fascinating, and it sent me down the path of similar dramas. If you’re looking for other great films like Girl, Interrupted, then check these out.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

The first on our list of movies like Girl, Interrupted is Heavenly Creatures.

It is a drama about two teenage girls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, who develop a strong bond to one another.

However, after their parents start thinking that their friendship is getting too intense, they decide to separate them. Not appreciating the move, the girls decide to take revenge by killing Pauline’s mother.

The film is based on a true story, and it is easy to understand why it falls under the category of movies that explore the depths of mental health, human connections, a mother-daughter relationship, as well as friendship between children, especially when both, or even one, struggles with rejection and misunderstanding.

The Guardian called it “Peter Jackson’s masterly, formally daring, and superbly acted drama,” and I can’t help but agree completely.

The film stars Kate Winslet, Melanie Lynskey, Sarah Peirse, Wendy Watson, Diana Kent, Ben Skjellerup, and others.

Running with Scissors (2006)

Moving on to the second entry on the list of movies similar to Girl, Interrupted, we have a drama called Running With Scissors, a drama about a teenage boy who comes of age in the 1970s. However, his life is anything but normal.

Being neurotic and pretentious, his mother sends him away to live with a rather vulgar psychiatrist and his eccentric extended family.

Young Augusten Burroughs escapes his alcoholic father and mother, who struggles with a severe mental illness. But, as you can imagine, the hardships and challenges that the young man is facing do not stop there.

The drama was based on a book by the same name, written by Augusten Burroughs himself. It was published in 2002 as a memoir, and following its release, it spent eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

The film stars Anette Bening, Joseph Fiennes, Brian Cox, Joseph Cross, Augusten Burroughs, Evan Rachel Wood, and others.

Shutter Island (2010)

The third on our list of films like Girl, Interrupted, we have a Martin Scorsese-directed masterpiece called Shutter Island. This is a neo-noir psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, who finds himself in the role of a US Marshal called Edward Daniels.

After Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule travel to Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane, located on Shutter Island, they are tasked with investigating the disappearance of an escaped inmate and murderer.

The missing inmate, Rachel, supposedly drowned her three children, and the staff of the mental institution believes that she might still be on the island.

However, as the movie and the investigation progress, Daniels continues to suffer from overwhelming migraines caused by PTSD from WWII, as well as the grief of losing his wife to an arsonist who is also believed to be a patient in the same mental hospital.

The movie continues to mix alternative realities to the point where the viewer cannot tell what is real and what is not by the end of the film.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Max von Sydow, and others.

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story (2010)

Zach Galifianakis

Moving on to the fourth spot on the list of films like Girl, Interrupted, we have a comedy-drama called It’s Kind Of A Funny Story.

The drama is based on a novel of the same name, and it follows a teenager who gets admitted to a mental hospital after a lengthy struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts before they become a suicide attempt.

Once in the psychiatric hospital, he makes friends with other patients outside of therapy, and finds hope and purpose.

It is a coming-of-age comedy-drama that walks the viewer through a life of a person struggling with a mental illness, but with a happy ending, as a 16-year-old actively tries to seek help for his depression, and he gets it through therapy.

The message to be taken from the drama is that mental illness takes people on an unknown journey but that they don’t have to face it alone, and all they need to do is ask.

The film stars Zach Galifianakis, Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts, Dana DeVestern, Viola Davis, Lauren Graham, and others.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Another one of similar movies to Girl, Interrupted is the timeless classic, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, directed by Miloš Forman.

The drama follows a war veteran and criminal who pleads insanity after the Korean War, only to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

However, while serving time for insanity at this state mental hospital, Randle Patrick McMurphy inspires his fellow patients to rebel against Mildred Ratched, the head nurse, and her authoritarian rule.

The film also explores issues in facilities that can affect the state of their patients quite dramatically. Not to mention things like lobotomies and matters such as the staff’s treatment of the patients and how it affects their healing process in a mental institution.

While the film is remembered as a comedy-drama, it doesn’t take the struggles of the mentally ill too seriously.

However, Roger Ebert explained it by saying that “The movie’s simplistic approach to mental illness is not really a fault of the movie, because it has no interest in being about insanity.”

The film stars Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Danny DeVito, Will Sampson, Brad Dourif, Sydney Lassick, and others.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Halfway down the list of films like Girl, Interrupted, we have a movie called The Royal Tenenbaums.

This is another comedy-drama that focuses on Royal Tenenbaum and his dysfunctional family, whose members put a pause on their lives to reluctantly gather under the same roof for different reasons.

The story of this drama follows Royal Tenenbaum and his wife Etheline, who got separated after getting three children, each of which was born a genius. However, with two decades of betrayal, failure, and disaster, the brilliance of the kids was all but erased.

It is a film that concerns the entire dysfunctional family, rather than just the husband-wife relationship, exploring the effects of a difficult world on an individual, especially at a young age, when it is so easy to get sucked in by depression, and get negatively impacted by the lack of hope.

The film stars Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, and others.

This Boy’s Life (1993)

Another drama with a story similar to Girl, Interrupted is called This Boy’s Life, and its plot takes place in 1957.

Due to a rather abusive boyfriend, which also marked a father-son relationship, a son and his mother flee the East in search of a new life, only to arrive to Seattle. Once there, the mother meets a polite garage mechanic, while the boy gets involved with the wrong crowd, and keeps getting into trouble as a result.

Thinking that they are finally safe, the mother marries the mechanic, only to discover that he is just as abusive and unreasonable an alcoholic as the one they escaped from.

After the horror that the realization brought, the mother tries to maintain hope, but the boy struggles with his mental health, and is growing up with plans to escape the small town and the abusive family that he is once again a part of.

The film stars Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Ellen Barkin, Carly Gugino, Jonah Blechman, Eliza Dushku, and others.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Emma Watson

In the eighth spot, we have another movie similar to Girl, Interrupted, known as The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is a film directed by Stephen Chbosky, and it follows an introverted and shy teenager who gets involved with two seniors, while still navigating mental health challenges, as well as those that come with adolescence.

Another coming-of-age story, the film follows Charlie, a 15-year-old freshman who is a naive outsider taken under the wing of two older friends.

The is movie is actually a story about love, loss, hope, fear, friendship, and above all, the complicated life in a scary world, where friends can mean the difference between life and death.

The movie shows that everyone lives their life in their own reality in this constantly changing world, and that the experience can be simplified and made much better with friends to help you out.

The film stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Johnny Simmons, Paul Rudd, Nina Dobrev, Mae Whitman, and others.

Prozac Nation (2001)

Similar to our last entry, but making the protagonist slightly older, Prozac Nation (directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg) revolves around a teenage girl, Elizabeth, who struggles with depression and addiction as she tries to navigate her way through Harvard and early adulthood.

The movie follows Elizabeth, who is on the verge of losing her grip on life and the world, after leaving home to start college.

As if the emotionally fraught home wasn’t enough, things take an even worse turn when the young woman clashes with the new roommate, and focuses solely on her boyfriend, who becomes her sole salvation.

The drama takes a different turn when her psychiatrist prescribes Prozac to help the young woman get her mental illness under control.

The drama shows a story that many a teenager has gone through at a similar age, as they lose the sense of belonging while trying to figure life out.

The film stars Christina Ricci, Jessica Lange, Michelle Williams, Jason Biggs, Anne Heche, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and others.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Moving on to our next drama involving mental illness, we have Silver Linings Playbook.

This is a film directed by David O. Russel, and it explores the experiences of a person with bipolar disorder, as well as his relationship with a girl who has her own personal struggles.

The drama follows Pat Solitano, who spent some time as a patient in a mental institution. Now finally out, he is trying to rebuild his life, and along the way, he enters into a relationship with a young woman who is struggling, herself.

From there on, the drama focuses on the thin line between struggle and happiness, where hope, positivity, and human connections can make a huge difference.

The film stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles, and others.

Man Facing Southeast (1986)

Nearing the end of the list, we have a science fiction drama called Man Facing Southeast.

This is a film about Rantes, essayed by Hugo Soto, a man who gets committed to a mental institution after claiming that he is an alien.

For the rest of the movie, his claims are dissected and studied one by one, in order to determine whether there is some truth behind them.

The film was directed by Argentine filmmaker Eliseo Subiela, and the movie became an Academy Award nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Granted, it is likely not the most cohesive film that you have ever seen, but I found it to be an extremely interesting one, and I definitely recommend watching it.

The film stars Ines Vernengo, Hugo Soto, Lorenzo Quinteros, David Edery, Christina Scaramuzza, and others.

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Kirsten Dunst

The last on the list is a movie called The Virgin Suicides, which takes place in the 1970s and follows the story of five sisters who struggle with the pressure of growing up.

Obviously, growing up can be quite challenging on its own, even if you have the best circumstances. However, when you have to grow up in a strict and repressive household, it can have severe consequences on your mental health.

Like others on this list, the movie explores the themes of societal expectations, mental illness, gender roles, and other kinds of struggles.

However, it also explores the relationships between the sisters, as well as with their neighborhood boys.

The film stars Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, Hanna R. Hall, Leslie Hayman, A. J. Cook, Chelse Swain, and others.

What was your favorite movie on the list? Let me know in the comments section below as I would love to hear!

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