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Friday 16 July 1999
Garde a Vue
(Dir Claude Miller)
SOMETIMES YOU have a feeling that life is only a function; it has no soul. The rich lawyer in Garde a Vue knows that his wife doesn't love him any more, yet he pretends to be happy and continues to live with her. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest you see how the relationships the mental patients have with each other bring out the good side of life.
Garde a Vue is what the French say when you are arrested and questioned for 48 hours. When two girls are murdered in the lawyer's neighbourhood, he is a suspect, and you see what happens during that 48-hour period. It's also a comment on a law that allows the police to hold someone when they are only a suspect.
It has just one main dialogue, a talking heads between the inspector and the suspect. And it's set in one room. It's quite theatrical; the atmosphere is simple. The room could be at the end of the world, a place where anything can happen.
Both men go beyond a police-inspector-and-suspect relationship. Even a murderer should be treated with some respect - especially as the inspector believes that he is innocent until the end, when there is a sign to the contrary. By then the lawyer has committed suicide. The inspector is a highly moral man, but when confronted with the victim he finds out that he is part evil, part good as well. And that is what makes a human being.
For me, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is almost perfect, and, as with Garde a Vue, it's the acting. I think the way mental illness is acted was very successful. It showed that they are just like us, except they have one or two things that are different - for example, the boy who is shy because of the way his mother treats him. I think you see here how their deformities have been created by society. Their illnesses get bigger when they are put in institutions, experimented on and made less normal.
The character played by Jack Nicholson is not sick; he is one of the healthiest people in the whole world. It makes me angry at the unjust attitudes to mental illness. Where I come from in Algeria, mental illness is accepted. When I was growing up I would talk to these people like anyone else. If we have a mental problem we go on holiday or go out. We don't believe in psychiatry, and think it's something for rich people.
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