I had never seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt play this kind of a character before, and he does it perfectly. His perpetually pent anger is like no other. I enjoyed his reluctantly dynamic nature in that the circumstances force him to change into a contradiction of himself. Don Cheadle's performance was also effective in both showing his character's inner conflict, as would be imaginable in someone who has to deal with potentially violent and uncomfortable situations every day. As for the handheld camera style, I think it contributes to the fact that the film shows a very real part of life in that life isn't steady - especially not in a place like this.
Don Cheadle is wonderful, as always, as the former drug-addict-turned-psychiatrist who worries it's all hopeless but refuses to stop trying. Sounds clichéd, perhaps, but for the most part it works, thanks to piercingly authentic performances.
Once you get past the shaky camera, this movie shows off strong performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Cheadle, and Zooey Deschanel. The only gripe I had was with the plot development. At times the story felt like it wasn't really going anywhere. Even with that gripe this is still a good movie and I wouldn't let that keep you from watching it.
Manic is in my opinion, undoubtedly a great movie. Not only because it possesses my personal favorite Indie stars Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but because the performances executed by the actors are just brilliant. All of the juvenile delinquents are played to an extent of realism that it makes most of the flaws easy to overlook. Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays a disgruntled teenager to perfection, and is ultimately the highlight of the film. The emotion that is created by the man vs self conflicts is just perplexing. Although the overall plot does not go anywhere, this is a thorough exposure of societal misfit teenagers and their mindsets. Also, the contrast between Don Cheadle's character and the teenagers create an interesting comparison between "normal" and "delinquent." It conveys how even a commendable individual is not too far off from the difficulties faced by looked-down upon teenagers. Overall, I recommend watching this Independent drama.
Lyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a few issues with anger management. Most of the time, he's in complete control, but one day, during a baseball game, he loses it and almost kills someone. Lyle's not quite eighteen yet, so he's sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he learns that compared to others, his problems are nothing. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the single most underrated and under appreciated actor in all of Hollywood. I've seen a lot of his films, some are great and some are awful, but the fact remains that he always gives a strong performance and makes even the worst movie that much better. Manic was a rare inside look at a youth psychiatric facility, but there wasn't much of a story behind it. Of course we meet Lyle and the other patients, finding out why they're there, but there really isn't a point to it. The quality of the film further decreases with the way it was filmed, as every scene features constant movement from numerous angles. Similar to these camcorder films, I honestly found it pretty distracting, not to mention nauseating. The best part of Manic though is clearly the performances. This was released in 2001, before any of the stars were household names, however after seeing the film, it's easy to see why they all became popular. Don Cheadle is another actor that doesn't get the recognition he deserves, playing the Doctor in Manic, he is the glue that brings everyone together. Even with JGL's performance, this film is a mess of nonsense without Don Cheadle. Manic is somewhat disturbing and filmed in a way that makes it hard to watch, but the performances are just about as good as it gets and make this film worth seeing.
I definitely enjoyed seeing Zooey and Joseph in their first movie together. I didn't enjoy the camera work, towards the beginning it was really shaky and it was always too zoomed in on people's faces. Camerawork aside the movie does have some powerful moments but I didn't really come out with a cohesive message.