In b/w moments of fury and quiet, “Manic” begins with a young man named Lyle (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who we, as an audience, know little about but that he is going to a psychiatric hospital for troubled teenagers.
The parents of these teenagers figuratively left scars while the teenagers literally left the imprints on their bodies and psyches. Don Cheadle plays Dr. David Monroe who fights tirelessly to take care of his patients. Shown in great detail is David pill popping and downing Dasani to help the stress go down, maybe not in the most delightful way.
The most relaxed conversation with this group was from the question, “Who would you choose: Batman or Superman?” Don and Joseph may not have known that later they would be rolling with Iron Man and Batman, respectively. The teenagers varied with liking dark lipstick, having their first sexual experience and arguing over the best Playstation games. In a scene as Rage Against The Machine played on the boombox, most of the kids tossed against each other showing that they wanted an outlet to screw around. Love is what Lyle wanted to give to Tracy (Zooey Deschanel) but she was only the beautifully doe-eyed girl.
There is an intimacy with this film. You see the camera zooming in and out and the moments when the actor is thinking literally about the directions from the script. All the actors were strong in carrying out the unbelievable raw of their characters. The film leaves us with some thought provoking quotes including “Define Progress” and “Wherever you go, you are still going to be there.” This film is a testament to the current climate of mental health, especially with youth.