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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's interesting, in looking through the "official" reviews of this film
that such questionable illuminaries of film criticism as Roger Ebert
to miss the point: the desire to mark Claudia as insane seems to run
strongly through reviewers, much as it does through the courtroom that the
Streisand plays an abrasive, uncooperative, deeply rebellious person. Clearly, she's shown as intelligent. Clearly, she understands the rules of the game; she just doesn't want to play. I find it interesting that so many people seem to consider her insane, at the same time that Nicholson's McMurphy is a rebellious revolutionary hero, working against a repressive system. It's passe to suggest that sexism plays a role in how we view movies, but this one points it out on two levels: Claudia's trap, in the film, bears an uncanny resemblance to the trap the film's been placed in by reviewers: the fact that she isn't a nice housewife seems to suggest to many that she's unstable.
Sure, the movie (like the play) uses the facile psychological excuse of childhood molestation to explain her refusal to play the good-girl game. But maybe, just maybe, she refuses to play because she recognizes that she's not allowed to win. It's not for those who hate Streisand on principle, certainly. But, if you're willing to take a tough walk through the definition of sanity and the gendering of that idea, take a look at this film.