reibureibu’s review published on Letterboxd:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a movie that seems paint its protagonist Randle (Jack Nicholson) in a positive light, as the story revolves around him coming in to a rigid institute and emancipating the patients from the strict Nurse Ratched.
But I'd like to think that the movie is a bit more nuanced than this because it feels too simplistic when read this way. Randle and Rached are two polar opposites, and the movie wants us to root for the former completely; there's seemingly no redemption that's shown for the nurse, and Randle's acts of resistance are cinematically celebrated.
I do think the movie wants you to see it like this, but there's moments that make me question Randle's principle. There's one in particular where he breaks his co-patients free, and they set out on a boating trip that suggests their liberation. But they don't seem to know exactly what they're doing nor where they are and if anything else it seems Randle's dragged them there selfishly, especially since most of them remain there voluntarily.
"What are we doing in here, Chief? Huh? What's us two guys doing in this fucking place? Let's get out of here. Out."
And later on when he holds a late-night celebration with his friends it's a decision that while admirable leads to disastrous consequences – and while in an ideal situation this wouldn't be punished, he should understand that his friends don't have the same freedom he does.
But this is all burying the lead because: he raped a teenager. This is known to us from the beginning, so it speaks to the film's quality that we can be convinced of his high ground. I think it's from this moment that we should question all his intentions, and I still would like to think that this is Cuckoo's real aim.
"She was fifteen years old, going on thirty-five, Doc, and she told me she was eighteen, she was very willing, I practically had to take to sewing my pants shut. Between you and me, uh, she might have been fifteen, but when you get that little red beaver right up there in front of you, I don't think it's crazy at all and I don't think you do either. No man alive could resist that, and that's why I got into jail to begin with."
Yeah, I think that should speak for itself.