Adapted from Ken Kesey's beast of a book, Cuckoo's Nest is the tale of Randall McMurphy, a small-time criminal admitted to a mental institution for evaluation. A scoundrel and fierce free thinker, McMurphy befriends the other 'inmates' and begins to school them in the art of revolt. With sedition beginning to waft through the corridors, McMurphy's bid for freedom is opposed by Nurse Ratched, a character who has come to represent the unflinching evil of bureaucracy.
Sport for Jove have set themselves a real task with this one. Kesey's book is filled with monstrous shadows, bending time and demons struggling to maintain a human form. But its nightmarish qualities are offset by characters and friendships defined by tenderness and an aching timidity. The film adaptation of Cuckoo's Nest is infamous for being one of only three films to sweep the big five – Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards. Its Broadway run was no less daunting, with Kirk Douglas taking the role of McMurphy and Gene Wilder playing Billy.
Uplifting and a kick in the guts at the same time, Cuckoo's Nest is a great reminder that, as McMurphy points out, "You're no crazier than the average asshole walkin' around on the street and that's it!"
Image: Marnya Rothe.