Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Danny DeVito
Director: Milos Forman
Running Time: 133 mins
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is an American film about a convict who convinces the authorities that he is crazy so that he can get into a more lax, mental institution, however after meeting the oppressive head nurse, he stages a rebellion along with the other patients so that they can get some freedom.
This film really hits you hard. Centred around a relatively difficult topic to look into, you find yourself engrossed in the lives of these mental patients, and the various adventures they undertake under Jack Nicholson’s brilliantly performed R.P. McMurphy are both charming as well as sad.
I thought that the story was incredibly well-written. Despite being an extremely slow-paced story, where, on the surface of things, it may seem as if there’s not much happening, this film grabs you from the off, with the idea of throwing the cat amongst the pigeons in this hospital bringing a great deal of unpredictability to the environment.
The film follows McMurphy’s attempts at changing the hospital for the better of the patients, but as that becomes increasingly difficult, he resorts to more extreme measures of liberating the people in the institution. Consequently, he takes all your favourite characters along on adventures both inside and outside the hospital, which are in fact some of the most charming and happy moments I’ve seen in a film for a long time, as he’s giving these people their humanity and freedom back after their time in suppression at the mental hospital.
The characterisation was also excellent. There is the main battle between the two principal characters at the core of the story, but the fact that that rarely happens on screen allows for all of the other characters to take a big part in the making of the story, knocking some sense into McMurphy, or supporting him in his uprising against the head nurse, strongly changing the atmosphere of the film at points.
Then, you’ve got the fantastic performances by Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. Nicholson plays McMurphy, the near anti-hero of the story, who shakes up the entire world of the hospital, and his reckless performance of the tough guy really strengthens this idea, but you can see, in comparison to Nurse Ratched, he is the more sensitive in the situation.
Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched was also excellent. It may seem at the beginning as if she’s just an administrative nurse who likes quiet and peace in her ward, but it quickly becomes apparent how dictatorial and frightening she really is, particularly through the fact that her very presence can change the entire atmosphere of a scene in a split second.
Overall, I’ll give this an 8.7, because it was an extremely well-written, well-acted film, with both charming and hard-hitting elements that really gets you to the core.