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Nuts, a 1987 courtroom drama film, is about a high-end call girl, Claudia Draper, played by the versatile and talented Barbra Streisand, who has been charged with first-degree manslaughter. The film explores themes of power, control, innocence, and justice. It is a gripping tale, focusing largely on the mental state of Claudia and the power dynamics that complicate her trial.

The film begins with the arrest of Claudia, who is accused of killing a client. Her affluence and social status spark a media frenzy, with Claudia’s mental health becoming a point of contention. Her high-profile, wealthy parents, portrayed by Maureen Stapleton and Karl Malden, are desperate to cast their adult daughter as mentally unfit to stand trial. They enlist renowned psychiatrist Dr. Herbert A. Morrison, played by Eli Wallach, to make an assessment of Claudia's mental state. The parents' obvious intent is to save Claudia from the consequences of her actions, but their ulterior motive is to save themselves from societal shame and embarrassment.

The film takes an interesting turn when public defender Aaron Levinsky, portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss, is appointed to represent Claudia. He is initially reluctant, driven by a laid-back temperament and non-complicated cases. However, as he begins to interact with Claudia, he is drawn into her complex world and becomes determined to ensure she gets a fair trial. Levinsky's primary battle is to prove that Claudia is sane and competent to stand trial despite having a troubled past and the unconventional profession.

Streisand's role as Claudia is powerful and riveting. She perfectly captures the complexity of a woman who is fighting the system that seeks to categorize and sideline her. Despite being a high-end escort, Claudia is portrayed as a strong, intelligent, and fiercely independent woman. Her outspoken nature and resistance against institutional restraint become synergistic forces in refuting the insanity plea. She stands up for her right to be heard, refusing to be silenced or deemed insane by those who seek to control her narrative.

Dreyfuss, as attorney Levinsky, provides a grounded, headstrong character who adeptly weathers Claudia's bursts of anger and impassioned outbursts. As he navigates the complicated court system and the perceptions surrounding Claudia's mental health, his determination to understand and defend his client becomes an interesting subplot. The dynamic between Claudia and Levinsky is compelling, showcasing the film's central theme of standing up against patriarchal structures and challenging societal norms.

The supporting actors also deliver strong performances. Stapleton and Malden as Claudia’s parents successfully personify the guilt, shame, and desperate cover-up of their lofty societal position. Wallach adds an engaging dimension to the film as he presents the mental health angle with sensibility and thought-provoking insights.

Nuts, directed by Martin Ritt, deftly deals with serious psychological concepts and questions societal labels and the forms of class and gender discrimination. The screenplay, written by Tom Topor, Darryl Ponicsan, and Alvin Sargent, preserves the essence of Topor's original play, enriching it with cinematic details and a taut narrative that underline the moral debates inherent in the story.

The movie's title, Nuts, is multi-faceted. It refers to Claudia's alleged insanity - a label she hopelessly fights against - as well as the absurdity of societal expectations and dogmas, and the insanity plea itself. The film ultimately questions whether it's more insane to conform or to battle against oppressive norms.

While the film is a courtroom drama, it also mirrors societal norms and power structures, providing a glimpse into the justice system, and the struggle between power and truth. It's a compelling exploration of the intersection of mental health, societal pressures, gender, and the justice system. Nuts is a dramatic, powerful film featuring strong performances, a compelling narrative, and a thought-provoking examination of society's treatment of those who dare to exist outside its traditional norms.

Nuts is a Drama movie released in 1987. It has a runtime of 116 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.6..

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Where can I stream Nuts movie online? Nuts is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at The Roku Channel Free, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Nuts for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Martin Ritt
Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, Maureen Stapleton, Eli Wallach
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