Watch Manic

"You can't escape yourself."
  • R
  • 2001
  • 1 hr 41 min
  • 7.2  (9,969)
  • 60

Manic, a 2001 film directed by Jordan Melamed, is a raw and intense drama that follows the lives of a group of troubled teenagers in a mental institution. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lyle, a violent and unpredictable young man who struggles with anger issues and a troubled past. Alongside him are Michael Bacall as Kenny, a shy and withdrawn youth facing sexual abuse, and Zooey Deschanel as Tracy, a rebellious and troubled girl with a history of drug abuse.

The film opens with Lyle being admitted to a juvenile psychiatric facility following a violent outburst at school. He is placed in a ward alongside other troubled teens, including Kenny and Tracy, and the group quickly forms a bond. As they navigate the challenges of daily life in the institution, they also face their own personal demons and struggles.

What makes Manic stand out is its raw and authentic portrayal of mental illness and the experiences of young people in a psychiatric ward. The film avoids the usual cliches of mental health dramas, instead focusing on the humanity of its characters and the issues that led them to the facility. There are no easy answers or quick fixes in Manic, just a group of young people trying to survive and make sense of their lives.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers a standout performance as Lyle, a troubled young man who struggles with anger and emotional outbursts. Despite his violent tendencies, Lyle is a sympathetic character, and Gordon-Levitt brings a nuanced and complex portrayal to the role. Michael Bacall also shines as Kenny, a quiet and withdrawn youth who is forced to confront his own trauma and sexual abuse. Bacall’s understated performance effectively conveys the pain and confusion of his character’s experiences.

Zooey Deschanel rounds out the trio of leads as Tracy, a rebellious and damaged girl who is dealing with addiction and self-harm. Deschanel brings a raw intensity to the role, capturing the desperation and vulnerability of her character. The chemistry between the three actors is palpable, and their complex relationships drive the film’s emotional core.

Manic is not an easy film to watch, but it is a powerful and important work that deserves to be seen. Unlike many other films about mental health issues, it doesn’t offer neat resolutions or tidy happy endings. Instead, it confronts the messy, painful realities of mental illness and trauma and portrays the struggles of young people in a way that is honest, compassionate, and deeply moving.

The film is shot in a naturalistic style, with hand-held camera work and a muted color palette that adds to the film’s sense of gritty realism. The minimalistic score by Nathan Larson is haunting and atmospheric, adding to the film’s overall mood of poignancy and despair.

In conclusion, Manic is a gripping and emotionally powerful film that offers a nuanced and authentic portrayal of mental illness and the experiences of young people struggling to make sense of their lives. The script is majorly written by Michael Bacall who is one of the cast members of the film. With its raw performances and unflinching honesty, it is a film that will stay with audiences long after the credits roll.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 41 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (9,969)
  • Metascore