Monday, February 4, 2019

Movie Review: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975)

Director: Milos Forman
Year: 1975
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 13 minutes

A convicted felon is transferred to a mental hospital for evaluation, but when his antagonizing antics get him officially committed, he soon realizes that he may have been better off in prison.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975 movie Jack Nicholson
"Do you think there's anything wrong with your mind, really?" (Image Source)
For a sane person, enduring the conditions of a mental hospital would be enough to drive anyone mad. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is directed by Milos Forman, who would go on to direct films like "The People vs. Larry Flint," "Man on the Moon," and the Oscar-winning "Amadeus." It is written by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman and is based on the play by David Wasserman and the novel by Ken Kesey. It tells the story of a felon serving time for statutory rape named R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson). He has been troublesome in prison and has been sent to a local mental hospital for evaluation. He doesn't actually have mental problems, just an aversion to authority, but he makes a bet with another patient that he can become an insufferable pain in the ass to the head nurse, Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). His antics are effective and sufficiently annoying, but Nurse Ratched enjoys the power she wields, and as it turns out, she has the authority to hold him there indefinitely and can make his life a living hell under the guise of doing her job.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975 movie Louise Fletcher
"You're going to stay with us until we let you go." (Image Source)
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is a movie defined by its performances. Jack Nicholson is absolutely brilliant as the layered R.P. McMurphy in what would be his first Oscar-winning performance. He is an irreverent pain in the ass who revels in making things difficult for authority figures. Nicholson oozes charm and is able to endear himself to the other patients to lead a small rebellion against the employees who are all just trying to do their jobs. As McMurphy attempts to get a rise out of the staff, he simultaneously begins "waking some of the other patients up" in return. Another incredible Oscar-winning performance is that of Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, who is the polar opposite of McMurphy. She values rules and is the symbol of order in their hospital. Though one could argue Nurse Ratched is doing what she has to because it's her job, she obviously has an affinity for authority and enjoys the control she possesses over her patients. The more McMurphy rebukes these "oppressors," the more they want to gain control over him through any means necessary. There are a few scenes that highlight her underlying sadistic tendencies where it's clear that she revels in inflicting order (and by proxy, pain) on others. At one point, she even starts to take her power trip a bit too far. Other noteworthy performances include those from Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Will Sampson, who all play patients at the facility. Apart from the acting, as a whole, this film is extremely engaging as it explores the flawed nature of how we used to approach mental health and madness, which serves to show how much has changed in the last several decades.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975 movie Jack Nicholson
"I think he's dangerous. He's not crazy, but he's dangerous." (Image Source)
It's easy to understand why "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is one of the few distinguished films to take home the 'Big Five' at the Academy Awards. It is high on the list of films every movie lover should see at least once in their lifetime. It has been able to stand the test of time and is every bit as riveting today as it was when it came out over 40 years ago.

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.7/10
RT Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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