If everyone from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, were teenagers.
Teenager Lyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is committed to the juvenile ward of a mental institution after brutally beating another boy. There, he encounters a pack of equally lost souls, including a girl who hurts herself (Zooey Deschanel), a 12-year-old child molester (Cody Lightning) and a bipolar teen planning an escape (Michael Bacall). Don Cheadle stars as the resident psychiatrist who works tirelessly to break through to his charges and give them hope.
Where this film is no where near as close to the Milos Forman classic, it still does have a great look and insight into the world of depression, and the people that try to help it.
Going into the film you have to be ready for a whirlwind storm of total unhappiness, something I did not do. I still wish there was a bit more light touches added to the film rather than just, all these suicidal tendencies running all over the place. I also think that first-time director, Jordan Melamed, gets too caught on focus with the shaky cam feature, and I found this aspect for some of the scenes to be a distraction, cause it was just all over the place.
Other than those two problems, this film does give great insight into depression. You see how these characters tell their stories about heart break, and tragedy. Almost every story, as depressing as the other, ultimately touches you, cause in all honesty if you have ever known somebody that is facing depression, or any type of mental illness, you can understand the pain that these kids are feeling.
One of my friends saw this movie, and was like, “this isn’t how real people act”. When in reality, this is totally how people act when they are under depression. I mean, the truth of this story is that, all these characters from the cutter, to the molester, and to the kid with anger management issues, not all of them find solutions in life, it’s more about helping to climb that mountain and achieve greatness.
Don Cheadle basically devours the screen every time he gets it with his superb acting. Everytime this guy is on-screen, you can feel his frustration, but also a sense of relief whenever he is around, and you can trust him with your life. It was cool to see Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star together again as love interests, because of my love for (500) Days of Summer. They both have a great sense of rawness within their characters, and each give off great performances to support the film.
Consensus: Manic may have obvious flaws, especially with the camera that will probably make you puke, but features great performances, to back up a wonderful screenplay about the reality of depression, and the harsh things to come of it.