The Bell Jar, based on the late poet Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel, evokes neither understanding nor sympathy for the plight of its heroine, Esther Greenwood, the epitome of a straight-A, golden-girl-overachiever, who is mentally ‘coming apart at the seams.’
As played by Marilyn Hassett, Esther emerges as a selfish, morbid little prig. She eventually confesses to hating her mother, admirably played by Julie Harris, presumably because her mother refuses to wallow in the details of her father’s death with her.
Marjorie Kellogg’s screenplay seems fairly faithful to the novel’s spirit. Larry Peerce’s direction provides a sense of headachey dullness 15 minutes into the film.
Donald Brooks’ costumes are the perfect evocation of 1950s style, the film’s time period, and the color of Gerald Hirschfeld’s camera is almost too pretty.