Everyone remembers the nurse from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. The Netflix series “Ratched” now tells its story.
You don’t want to get into this nurse’s hands. Mildred Ratched is ruthless when she wants to achieve something. And nothing she wants more than to free her brother, who brutally murdered several priests, from the mental institution. With outrageous lies and convincing imposture, she steals a job there. In 1947 the career of Mildred Ratched, one of the meanest nurses in film history, began: In “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” she made Jack Nicholson’s life hell – unforgettable.
With “Ratched” Netflix has now given the character a prequel that is well worth seeing. Sarah Polson makes the title character very impressive: elegant, opaque and aloof, except for a few moments when she drops her mask and allows a look into the depths of a tortured soul. At first, their motives remain in the dark. She acquired expertise as a nurse during the war and, through blackmail, succeeded in gaining a job in the asylum of the windy head of the clinic, Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones).
In his elegant clinic, the dubious doctor experiments with the mentally ill and uses dubious and painful therapies such as forced hot baths and lobotomies, in which diseased parts of the brain are severed. The vain governor (Vincent D’Onofrio) uses the institution to fuel his popularity. His press officer Gwendolyn and Ratched get closer. Because even if the femme fatale knows how to seduce men, Ratched’s heart beats more for women. In real life, Sarah Paulson is openly lesbian and lives with actress Holland Taylor, who is more than 30 years her senior – no wonder Paulson has become an icon of the LGBTQ community.
The makers put “Ratched” in the limelight. The fantastic settings in front of a Californian backdrop, the cool look and the fantastic costumes are probably more memorable than the sometimes meandering story, peppered with drastic depictions and horror elements. A highlight are the appearances of Sharon Stone (which you see far too seldom) as a completely crazy millionaire who lives in a kind of castle and with Dr. Hanover still has an outstanding bill.
The music from “Psycho” and the elegant pans of the camera refer to the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock, who the directors of “Ratched” cannot hold a candle to when it comes to sophisticated psychology. The color symbolism is exquisitely put together and assigned to the figures: from blood red to royal blue to cool mint green, the color of the uniform of the Sister Ratched. It seems artificial and artificial, and perhaps a bit too artificial for some: The stylish mystery series remains exciting until the end.