One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was never going to be a relaxed watch. The subject matter combined with Jack Nicholson’s mad act performance made for a real roller coaster ride. But it also ended up being a really feel good film, most of the time anyway.
Randal (Jack Nicholson) has been placed in a mental state hospital in an attempt to get out of doing work in prison. The patients all have varying problems and it seems the hospitals way of treating them is quite the hardboiled approach, follow a routine schedule, never break the schedule, bad behavior has punishment involved to control the patients. Randal however has a different way of dealing with things as he tries to enjoy his stay and ends up giving his new friends new experiences and fun. The balance between his crazy antics to how the nurse will deal with things create a sense that he really is doing dangerous things, but you can’t help but smile when everyone seems to be having such a good time.
The joys of the film come from this balance. The mental ward patients are a fantastic bunch of characters who provide an edge of concern over the fun Randal brings to the film. With such varied characters and problems ranging from anger problems, the ability not to understand anything and a stuttering guy who has suicidal tendencies, there is always that thought that something will go terrible wrong. It heads to these points and build ups and it becomes a great relief when the fun continues. It may feel a bit one-sided at times as the ward seem to be painted as the no fun bad guys while Randal’s fun is the way to go, but it creates the tensions and concerns of his actions to give the film that extra spark. While some character may annoy or worry near the start, by the end a great feeling of friendship and comfortable familiarity with the cast has been formed.
The unsettling feeling which the film creates leads to a shocking conclusion, I always felt aware that something would happen, but when it does come it becomes something hard to take without feeling an overflow of sadness. The companionship between the group the film has created thanks to Randal’s. way of treating them comes to a bitter end and the final moments bring home just how amazing the characters were. Every single one I cared for and the ending ,while a way I wouldn’t have wanted the film to go in, was perfect in execution. It’s hard to think of a different way to make the ending so powerful.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest has everything. It’s funny, crude, tense, sad, moving and leaves something on the mind long after it’s ended.