An amazing insight into the American mental health system as its being exploited by a comically sharp and hyper character, McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) who’s often at loggerheads with the head nurse Rached (Louise Fletcher).
The basic premise it that Mc Murphy is attempting to wait out his last few days of a prison sentence in a mental hospital as there is more freedom, his energetic approach to life often lands him in trouble with the nursing staff and he is often puzzled by the actions of the inmates and their “treatment” while being blind to how far into the system he had landed himself.
So much of this story revolves around authority and fucking with it, what’s not to love about that?
Bases on Ken Kesets 1962 novel Cuckoo’s Nest, the film tells a similar story about the hell raising McMurphy, and this fabulous remake of a dated story still rings a few bells today in various asylum scenes in films such a 12 Monkeys (1995), and tons of spin of scenes in TV shows such as the SImpsons etc. And there is no question why, from the opening scene with the plastic countryside to the “water fountain” ending this film is packed with brilliant cinema and especially outstanding characterization of ultimate asylum anti-hero and he clashes through the white corridors of this grim mental hospital and ends up stealing a boat as he propels the crazies out into the world and through various comic antics.
The arch nemesis is nobly performed by Louise Fletcher and strangely won her an Oscar, don’t get me wrong her performance was stunning but nowhere near as detailed as the legendary performances from the inmates such as Danny Devito, Brad Dourif (his acting debut should have been a warning to us all) and Christopher Lloyd, and not least to forget Will Sampson who played Chief and gave us some of the most impressive moments in cinema history. Nicholson was literally born to play McMurphy, he’s slick and feeds off the character in this impressive release.
As the movie picks up and the compelling byzantine backstories are plucked from the characters, the tables start to turn, the “fun” ebbs away, McMurphy finds himself “In the system” and his attempts to escape become more desperate but he’s now emotionally attached to the other inmates, this is when the movie gets darker and eventually there is a horrifyingly poignant finale.
Handsomely produced by Saul Zaentz, and expertly directed by Milos Forman nothing is really at fault with this cult movie, it’s brave and deserves the critical and commercial success, and hopefully a reminder that we should all question the rules.
R – Madhouse (2004), Midnight Express (1978) Spider (2002)
L – Asylum Movies, Movies that deal with MADNESS!!!, Mental Health Movies,
5B – Jack Nicholson, Brad Dourif, Louise Fletcher, Christopher Lloyd,