Pop culture article
Ratched hits our Netflix accounts on 18 September and I’m so far past the edge of my seat I’m sitting on the floor.
First appearing on our screens in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – based, of course, on Ken Kesey’s classis novel – Mildred Ratched is an administrative nurse in a mental institution wielding near-absolute power over the patients.
When we first met her, she was locked in a power struggle with new patient Mac, who seems to be resisting her attempts to cow him. He eventually attacks her when she humiliates another inmate so much that he commits suicide. Ratched has Mac lobotomised, but his presence has loosened her control on the ward.
In this Netflix prequel, Sarah Paulson is Nurse Ratched, and the world is waiting to see if she can breathe the same horrific life into the character that Louise Fletcher (pictured left) did in the film.
It’s a tricky job because, although an icon of evil, Ratched is not obvious in any way. Fletcher played her with superb restraint – so much so that one could be forgiven for thinking her face was filled with Botox. To overdo Ratched would be to destroy the subtleties of the character.
The Perfection of Paulson
I have faith in Paulson, though. I’ve been fangirling about her ever since I saw her in Joss Whedon’s Serenity. She seems to bring a bit of stardust to everything she appears in – something Hollywood has recognised; she’s been nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
The trailer for Ratched landed this month and has a delightful strangeness supported by hyper-real cinematography reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands. The quirky and highly colourful wardrobe supports the dreamlike quality to some of the scenes we get a peek at in the trailer.
Nurse Ratched shows her ability to be vile without changing her tone of voice. “You should bathe more often,” Paulson says drily to a gas station attendant, and then, as an afterthought, “your fingernails are filthy” – as if she was simply thanking him for his customer service.