Based on the stageplay by Tom Topor, Nuts presents a premise weighted down by portentous performances. Issue of society’s right to judge someone’s sanity and the subjectivity of mental health is not only trite, but dated. While film ignites sporadically, it succumbs to the burden of its own earnestness.
As Claudia Draper, an uppercrust New York kid who has gone off the deep end into prostitution, Barbra Streisand is good, but it’s too much of a good thing. For the most part it’s a heroic performance, abandoning many of the characteristic Streisand mannerisms while she allows herself to look seedy. Streisand is flamboyantly, eccentrically crazy in a way that implies she is just a spirited woman society is trying to crush.
Richard Dreyfuss as Streisand’s reluctant public defender is by far the film’s most textured character, giving a performance that suggests a world of feeling and experience not rushing to gush out at the seams.
Arrested for killing her high-priced trick, it is Dreyfuss’ job to convince a preliminary hearing that Streisand is mentally competent enough to stand trial with little help from her and against her parents’ wishes.