Entertainment Weekly - 05/16/2003
"...The actors -- particularly Gordon-Levitt -- smartly avoid playing Crazy Types..."
Los Angeles Times - 05/09/2003
"...MANIC doesn't traffic in platitudes and sharing-and-caring. The group-talk and anguished groping feel true..."
Jordan Melamed's directorial debut is a strikingly honest depiction of life in a juvenile mental ward. Following a disturbing and violent fight at school, Lyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is admitted--against his will--to Northwoods Mental Institution. There he joins a group of troubled teens: withdrawn Tracey (Zooey Deschanel); bipolar Chad (Michael Bacall); rebellious Sara (Sara Rivas); confrontational Michael (Elden Henson); and fragile Kenny (Cody Lightning). At Northwoods, Lyle must decide if he will allow his rage to rule his life, or if he is willing to find the source of his anger and work through it. Like all of the patients, he is on a painful journey of self-discovery that may ultimately save him from himself. Don Cheadle stars as the resident psychiatrist who works tirelessly to break through to his charges and give them hope. Shot in digital video, the film often evokes the feel of a documentary, an effect enhanced by the emotional, raw performances of the actors. Cheadle and Bacall give particularly memorable performances, and Gordon-Levitt is riveting in a role that is a far cry from the lovable alien he played on the sitcom THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN.