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critics consensus

A grim drama about emotionally damaged teens, Manic's solid cast helps to elevate the material above cliche. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Follows the fate of Lyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a violent adolescent who, in lieu of prison, is placed in a juvenile mental institution where he encounters a group of equally troubled teens. This motley crew - abused, sexually confused, violent, and yet hanging on by their grit and anger - becomes Lyle's last lifeline as he fights to find meaning in a world that seems to defy understanding.

Cast & Crew

Nic Henley
Nic
Peter Broderick
Executive Producer
Chuck Reeder
Executive Producer
Joanne Hoffman
Executive Producer
Rocky Eversman
Co-Producer
Nick Hay
Cinematographer
Carol Strober
Production Designer
Dahlia Foroutan
Costume Designer
Gloria Vela
Film Editor
David Broer
Art Direction
Paula Maslowski
Set Decoration
Stephen Maloney
First Assistant Director
Bill Coleman
Music Supervisor
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Critic Reviews for Manic

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (21)

Audience Reviews for Manic

  • Nov 17, 2013
    Filled with breakthrough performances and an edge of emotion that never quits, "Manic" brings Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel into the world of independent cinema in a way never seen before. Gordon-Levitt's anger infused Lyle is undeniable, to the point that one cannot take their eyes off of him. With each scene he grows and becomes more entertaining to watch. With Zooey wandering on the sidelines, her best moments do not hit until the third act, but yet she steals every scene she's in. Also impressive is Don Cheadle, who delivers a realistic look at a group leader on the brink just as much as his patients. Much like this year's "Short Term 12", first time director Jordan Melamed's dark psychiatric ward pushes the boundaries in the best of ways and produces some truly shocking dramatic turns of events. With a unique camera style and distinct choices in the pacing of the film, "Manic" sets the bar for independent dramas and proves that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has always been a fantastic actor, delivering great turn after great turn. Having not produced any dramas since "Manic", Melamed's track record will remain one for one and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2013
    Chad: I'd rather feel like total shit sometimes, and God the rest of the time, than just like - ok all the time, you know? Fuck mediocrity. "You Can't Escape Yourself" Manic has been a movie a really wanted to check out for sometime now and I'm happy I did. This is the type of movie that you don't see to often. It's pessimism will make you feel all the terrible things in your life. It's blunt, it's honest, and it's not all about the happy ending with this one. I respect the movie, but I must say it won't be for everyone. I didn't love it, and at times it's hard to watch. So much pessimism with no optimism will do that to the audience, but that's not to say that this wasn't made the right way. A story like this doesn't need happiness. Lyle is committed to a juvenile mental ward after brutally beating another kid with a baseball bat. He's supposed to find the reason why he is there. He's supposed to hone his anger, and be able to do productive things with it instead of using it in violent outbursts. He befriends a few of his peers and becomes enemies with one.  The film is shot in a handheld, quick shifting way that is effective with this type of movie. I liked the way it was shot. The score was also very good in a subtle type of way. But the main reason why I liked the movie was the performances. Everyone is phenomenal. Don Cheadle as the counselor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lyle, and Zooey Deschanel as Tracy. The other actors whose names I don't know where great as well. Manic is a film worth watching if you can accept the bluntness and are able to handle the pessimism. It's not a fun movie to watch, it's not "entertaining", but what it is is a well-made, honest movie about a kid who may never get his anger under control. Well worth a look in my opinion.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 16, 2012
    The acting is solid and strong from early Gorden-Levitt and Deschanel. Along with the cinematography being in cheap digital font, the feel is gritty and realistic. The story isn't deep but it'll have you hooked for the hour and a half.
    paul o Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2011
    This film speaks to me in a most unsettling manner in that it is this movie is rage and depression incarnate with and without the feeling of loneliness and the helplessness that comes with depression. I love this movie, it's like rewinding to my worst high school days and asking me if I want to fight for no reason at all, I love this movie.
    Greg A Super Reviewer

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