Dan Holford’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film Club #2
So thankful for film club picking this movie and forcing me to actually sit down and appreciate it. I’ve always heard this film is a ‘masterpiece’ and one of the greatest of all time, but never found the time to sit and watch.
While not a completely perfect movie, it is fantastic. Perhaps Jack Nicholson’s best performance as MacMurphy, his characters presence as the new member of this sort of ‘gang’ in a mental institute, really shines throughout. His chaotic and awful behaviour corrupting and in the long term helping the patients of the institute to find themselves and discover just how they aren’t quite as crazy as the outside world and the world of the nurses treats them.
Along the way, you really get what each character is going through, and find yourself sympathising with each, wanting Mac’s interactions to really help guide them through their world. This is especially present with the stories of the Chief and Billy, both characters that the audience can feel sorrow for, before really wanting to route for them. Watching these characters interact is a joy, with some funny moments of dialogue and scenes, intercut with the whole tragedy of their characters trapped not only trapped in the institute but also within their minds, a look at mental illness that even a film made today may not approach even half as well. There’s a small amount in the middle where the film seems to linger just a little too long without much actually happening, and character development doesn’t seem to actually move onwards, but this is only a small part and a small gripe before the movie picks back up again and really hits you with the ending.
The ending. Well. Trust me. I’m not crying, this is just the hay fever from the heat! A perfect set up and conclusion that’s satisfying and honestly the only way you can ever see the movie actually going.
Overall, it’s a tale well told, directed and beautifully acted, with an absolute stand out performance from Nicholson. One that I am sure to rewatch in the very near future.
Ps. If you don’t watch to watch the entire 2 hours of the movie, watch the Frank Reynolds version in “Sweet Dee has a Heart Attack,” in always sunny in Philadelphia!