directed by Jordan Melamed
(MGM, 2001)

Manic follows juvenile psychiatric patient Lyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to Los Angeles' Northward Mental Institution, where he is admitted after beating another student with a baseball bat during a fight. In a hauntingly realistic portrayal of mental turmoil, the movie follows the painstakingly slow (or non-existent) progress for Lyle, suicidal Tracy (Zooey Deschanel), self-injuring goth rocker Sara (Sara Rivas), bipolar rich kid Chad (Michael Bacall) and sexually abused Kenny (Cody Lightning).

Don Cheadle portrays staff therapist Dr. Dave, a man who struggles against his own feelings of futility and ineffectiveness. The teens have angst, their families are near the breaking point, and those charged with fixing the out-of-control teens lack all the answers.

Director Jordan Melamed shot the film on hand-held digital video in an actual mental hospital, strongly adhering to the essential intentions of the Dogme 95 movement. As such, film is not a barrier between the viewer and the action on screen.

Manic is never sensationalist; rather, it uncovers truths that lurk in the lives of nearly all families. There are no trite life lessons, no jaw-dropping "crazy person" performances in hope of an Oscar nod, and the end isn't tied up with a big pretty bow. The movie does end with a sense of hope, not for banishing all trauma and difficulty, but for the ability to control and manage it within our lives.

review by
Jessica Lux-Baumann

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new