This adaptation of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir of a year spent in a mental institution is filled with terrific elements and outstanding scenes, but taken as a whole there seems to be something missing. It’s certainly not the performances, which are all strong: While Angelina Jolie tears into her role with gusto and no restraint, Winona Ryder instead delivers an understated, carefully studied performance that anchors the narrative. However, there often seems to be too much and not enough going on at once, and by the time the strange, tonally inconsistent climax rolls around it’s hard not to notice that director James Mangold has lost control of the movie. But the elements that work well manage to elevate the overall experience, from a well-selected collection of era-specific music to the strong ensemble acting.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)