‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’

A powerhouse, electrifying [sic] performance at the centre of the film results in a visceral to-the-gut feature that jettisoned Jack Nicholson into the major A league.

Korean war veteran R.P.McMurphy (Jack Nicholson – Chinatown, The Departed) looks to an easier jail stretch by being admitted to a hospital for the mentally unstable. But he’s unprepared for the cruelty of domineering Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher – The Lady in Red, Flowers in the Attic). Rallying the bullied patients on his ward and providing a sense of purpose and fun, McMurphy falls foul of authority – and Ratched in particular.

With its commentary on mental health treatment an undoubted allegory of political totalitarianism, Czech New Wave director Milos Forman (Amadeus, Hair) expertly facilitates a gradual unfolding of the narrative, the control by the nursing staff slowly tightening as witnessed by a shocked (and sane) McMurphy. The result is brilliant cinema, an actor-driven feature anchored by Jack Nicholson’s finest hour.

Nominated for 9 Oscars in 1976 including best supporting actor (Brad Dourif – Halloween, Mississippi Burning), cinematography, score, editing – won 5 for best film, director, actor, actress and adapted screenplay.

Rating: 81%


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