Plot: When R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is admitted to a mental institution for observation, he decides to cause as much mischief as possible with his fellow inmates to get under the skin of the head nurse.
What went through my head: The thing that truly struck me watching this film is that nobody is like Jack Nicholson. Especially when it comes to manic craziness and debauchery (in his acting life of course…). Some might argue that Johnny Depp comes close but Depp deals in controlled crazy – Nicholson is madness unleashed. His performance here is so perfect, I imagine he had to sell his soul to a man with a pitchfork.
While it’s misguided to call this a comedy it is undeniably hilarious, yet at the same time it somehow manages to be incredibly serious – usually in the same moment. My hungover brain cannot begin to fathom the depths of the genius that went into writing this as a novel, and whoever adapted it for screen should be given a very nice pat on the head also.
But what boggles me more, is that this film is important. It’s not often I say that of a movie, but this certainly merits the word. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is so ground-breakingly eye opening into the world of mental illness, its diagnoses and its misdiagnoses. And while I understand that standards have been raised somewhat, it opens the eyes to how mental illness is stigmatised and treated. Perhaps I’m gushing like a babbling fanboy here but I sincerely want to punch my younger self right in the fucking kidneys for not watching this sooner.
Verdict: Pitch perfect every second, this film will stay with you for days in all the right ways. (Ha – rhyme). Jack Nicholson acts like only Jack Nicholson can and while I would love to say that he steals the show, his supporting cast is as solid as a rock and peppered with incredibly young versions of familiar faces (Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Brad Dourif). If you haven’t ever seen this, stop what you’re doing – yes, even if it’s open heart surgery – and watch it.
McMurphy: I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.
McMurphy: Which one of you nuts has got any guts?
McMurphy: I’m a goddamn marvel of modern science!
A Fresh Look At: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)