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January 29, 2000

Is it just me, or is every movie-going experience these days a test of patience and an exercise in self-control?

Since I'd nearly missed The Green Mile last week because of traffic, it seemed like a good idea to get to the theater early today for Girl, Interrupted. There was no traffic and no line when Mom and I got there, so we actually sat down half an hour before the scheduled start. We were able to get the best seats and watch the people trickle in. But we should probably have known something was wrong when the previews started ten minutes late.

The four trailers played through normally, and when the movie started, there was absolute silence in the auditorium. I thought it was a dramatic way to start a film, with no sound, not even music or background noise. The silence continued for several minutes, and the audience began to look around at each other. I, the sophisticated filmgoer, was sure that this was the director's way of drawing us into the story. But when the actors' mouths started to move and nothing visually interesting was happening on the screen, the muttering started in the ranks, and a couple of people sprinted for the exit to let the manager know that there just might be a sound problem.

After a few more minutes the film stopped abruptly, and the theater was plunged briefly into total darkness. Then the house lights came up and the pre-show music resumed, with your Cher and your Backstreet Boys and the like. The crowded room was surprisingly good-natured about the interruption, even when a representative of the theater made an announcement that the film would resume in a few minutes. Most were just concerned that it should start from the beginning.

And it did. It started from the beginning of the trailers. (Big groan from the audience.) We had the chance to watch all four of them all the way through one more time. For the record, and as if you cared, today's previews were for The Beach, Hanging Up, 28 Days and What Planet Are You From?

By this time I was convinced that the sound would die again as soon as the movie started, but I'm happy to say that all was well at last. Of course, I'd been sitting in the stadium seat for an hour and fifteen minutes already by that time, so I was happy there was sound simply to cover the noise coming from my empty stomach. I hadn't planned on an ordeal of this magnitude when I'd had my one Slim-Fast shake earlier in the day.

And I have to say that the movie was worth the wait. Winona Ryder's intelligence illuminates her character, as it always does, and Angelina Jolie is riveting as her sociopath pal. These two talented, beautiful actresses portray characters whose relationship develops both because and in spite of how well they learn to see into each other's hearts.

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