Played by Winona Ryder
A sensitive and thoughtful writer, Susanna’s downfall is her promiscuity. A love affair with her father’s (married) best friend results in her psychological break-down, and she is sent to the Emergency ward after following a bottle of aspirin after a bottle of vodka – an action she justifies with, “I had a head-ache”, although later in the film she claims it was suicide. After this traumatic event, her pyschiatrist and family find it the best choice to send her to a mental hospital – and she finds herself amidst characters such as Lisa, Daisy, and Georgia who make her stay an interesting and eventful one. There is the underlying question in this film is Susanna insane, or driving herself crazy? Her psychiatrist diagnoses her with Borderline Personality Disorder, although Nurse Valerie Owens, Susanna’s old boyfriend Toby, and Susanna herself at times, insist she is sane. Susanna’s struggle between sanity and insanity is an element which lends an intriguing twist to the plot line.
Played by Angelina Jolie
The fiery, uncontrollable Lisa Rowe has been a patient at the hospital for years and is extremely proud of her diagnoses as a Sociopath. Her role in the film consists of acting as Susanna’s very warped and cynical guide to her new surroundings, and attempting to make the nurses angry.
Played by Britney Murphey
Abused as a child, Daisy has an eating disorder which causes her to become squeamish when eating around others. She has a questionable relationship with her father, whose chicken is the only food she will eat. She does not intergrate well with the other girls in the ward, and locks herself up in her bedroom.
Played by Clea Duvall
A child-like pathalogical liar, and a sensitive and fearful character, Georgina finds solace in the story of The Wizard Of Oz. She shares a room in the ward with Susanna, previously co-habited by the fiery Lisa.
Played by Elizabeth Moss
Polly has severe scarring over her face and body, a result of setting herself on fire. Her unusual cheery and optimistic disposition puzzles Susanna, but it transpires that the reality underneath is an upsetting one.
Played by Jared Leto
Toby is Susanna’s lover, opposed to war and violence and completely in denial of Susanna’s mental illness. He believes she is perfectly well and does not want her to stay at Claymoore.
Played by Joanna Kerns
Susanna’s mother. Deeply dissapointed by her daughter’s indifference towards higher education, Annette dispairs of Susanna’s reckless behaviour. The only option she sees fit is to admit her to Claymoore. Upon finding out about Susanna’s disorder, she bursts into tears. It is clear she is not the model daughter she anticipated.
Valerie Owens, RN
Played by Whoopi Goldberg
Strong-minded nurse Valerie Owens does not tolerate the daily nonsense from Lisa or anyone. She is a motherly figure with a no nonsense approach to her work, and does not believe that Susanna is mentally ill. She claims that she is a “lazy, self-indulgent, little girl who is making herself crazy”, and refers her to the therapists.
Dr. Sonia Wick
Played by Vanessa Redgrave
Sonia is Susanna’s therapist. An eloquent and well-educated woman, she is wise to whatever the patients may throw at her, and takes it in her stride with a cool and calm attitude. Certainly, she is excellent at her job and knows the inside of Susanna’s head better than Susanna does.