One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ★★★

It's a staple of American cinema, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, and pretty much hailed as a masterpiece all around; I was pretty hyped for this, and for the most part I was not disappointed.

Jack Nicholson is honestly an incredible actor, all around. I know he's super famous and well loved, I was just under the impression that he wasn't truly one of the greats. And he is. Totally. First with The Departed, then The Shooting, and now he blew both those performances out of the water with this.

He totally makes McMurphy a believable, real, breathing character, someone who has flaws and we know people like that exist - but also someone we want to root for, a true hero of the story. That is exactly McMurphy's role in this - to be a hero for the other mentally ill patients, and to show us how to find joy in life.

This is one of those films where the second half - to me - is exponentially better than the first. The first is great, don't get me wrong, but it also focuses on setting up characters and motivations and etc. It's not boring, but some of those longer therapy/basketball scenes can begin to seem a little tedious. What holds that together is Nicholson's top notch acting - he shines on the screen as I said.

Nurse Ratched of course is one of the most believable and terrifying villains ever, someone who isn't evil at the purest form, but does such inhumane and evil things to the mentally ill inmates that you just have to think of her as a bad person. In the end, she's just trying to do her job - she doesn't have evil plans for the inmates, she isn't trying to make Billy commit suicide. She's simply ignorant, foolish, and yes - makes terrible decisions throughout.

The themes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest aren't very subtle. That's in no way a bad thing, neither are the themes of Shawshank Redemption or La La Land, two other movies I loved. The themes in all three of these movies are powerful and effective, they stick with you. The second half of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest sticks with you, truly. Especially the crazy and disturbing last twenty minutes.

Chief's final "act of mercy" and escape from the hospital is beautiful and tragic, a last pleading cry for freedom and happiness in life that only McMurphy had instilled in the minds of the patients. As Chief runs through the window, I can't help but wonder what his life will be like now. He's running from a corrupt and dictatorial hospital, into what? Crime, disease, ignorant people, evil people -- the real world. It's the sad truth of this movie, that good times are good but no matter where you are they won't stick.

From the director of Amadeus - my second favorite movie of all time - this movie could hardly hope to measure up to that movie. But I was indeed impressed with how close it came, especially at the end. It's undoubtedly a masterpiece of how to instill all emotions into it's viewers - both love and hatred, happiness and anger, joy and sorrow. Some parts haven't aged well today, but that didn't cloud my vision on this wonderful (and Best Picture deserving) movie.

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