It doesn't take much to indict the unjust institution that protects its psychiatric integrity above actually listening to its so-called mad subjects. It takes much more to let the mad speak for themselves: in opacity of gesture, in speech that unwinds itself, in exercises of reason that reveals the arbitrariness behind the sane/insane distinction. As a portrait of norm-power's need to exclude, the film is indelible.
I don't really know what to think about this one. It is overwhelming, and hard to watch. I feel like the editing plays with us, and it only takes us so close. Provocative and earth shattering for the time. It gets 4 stars for the humanity, the balls to make the film, and the pain that the camera captures fleetingly.
Wiseman's debut took us behind the walls of a state prison for the criminally insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts and exposed the cruelty, mistreatment and taunting of those supposed to be getting therapy. Famously banned from public exhibition for over 25 years the film has lost none of its incendiary power. A difficult watch that one wonders how the filmmakers were allowed to film in the first place. Essential.