I’d only ever seen this film once before and decided to watch it again with my boyfriend, as we were on a Nicholson hype after previously watching The Shining.
The film centres around a criminal named McMurphy who tries to sneak his way out of working hard in prison life to kick back in the mental institution, but it’s clear from the get go that relaxing through his sentence might not be as easy as he imagined.
Jack Nicholson pulls another outstanding performance out of the bag and it’s easy to see why he grabbed his first Oscar win.
There are plenty of other familiar faces along the way but most noticeable is Brad Dourif (who I only really knew from the Chucky movies) who is fantastic in his role as stuttering Billy Bibbit.
I don’t want to get all deep and political, but the mental health system has come a long way in recent years. Every day people are finding the strength to talk about depression and anxiety and we are slowly changing the way in which these are viewed and discussed. Obviously, there are much bigger fish to fry but talking about the smaller picture can help change the bigger one.
This film however, focuses on the flaws that existed many moons ago. Patients were drugged and ignored when they didn’t comply and in some cases were harshly mistreated instead of being properly helped and medicated.
The main antagonist of this story is the infamous Mrs. Ratched.
I’ve seen many people online describe her as one of the vilest villains in cinema history, but to me she isn’t really a bad guy at all?
Is she a stickler for the rules? Sure thing. Does she feel the need to assert her authority? A lot of the time, yes BUT does she actively and voluntarily try and harm anybody? No.
For a lot of the characters, we’re never really told the reasons that they’re at the hospital and for all we know, they could be seriously dangerous to themselves and others around them, so isn’t it her responsibility to put her foot down from time to time?
Now of course the methods of ‘punishment’ or ‘rehabilitation’ are a little twisted, but at the time the movie was set, these were acceptable and sometimes even shown to improve mental illnesses, so for all Ratched and the other nurses and doctors knew, they were trying to help.
To me, the whole Ratched vs Randle scenario is similar to hard faced teacher VS naughty student. Both sides thought what they were doing was good and what the other was doing was bad.
Randle brings fun and light to the inmates and he really does seem to have a huge impact on their lives. Some for good and some for bad.
It’s that idea that goes hand in hand with the movie itself and how at times it can be beautifully uplifting and then again heartbreakingly sad. I finished the film not really knowing how to feel, and that’s part of what makes it great, there are so many conflicting emotions.
In general, I’m not a huge fan of solid dramas yet this movie has so many layers and is laced with humour, making it enjoyable every time you watch.
8/10 – It’s a very well put together movie with some elements that are perfect. However for me, it’s not got the heart I wished it would have. I love the characters and their performances, but watching it for a second time, something is missing for me.
It’s still outstanding, but not something I’d reach for or recommend time after time.
P.s – watching this movie, I honestly can’t believe it was made in 1975! Like whaaaat?!