Release Date: April 25, 2003
Limited release

Stop drooling.  That's not Eliza Dushku.

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This edgy drama set in a mental institution has already received a number of outstanding reviews after festival screenings at Sundance and Toronto in 2001. Apparently the first film to be shot using the new PD150 professional digital camera from Sony, Manic was filmed in a cinéma-verité style and features very realistic and believable performances from its array of young talent.

Jason Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun) stars as Lyle, a violent teenager filled with a frightening amount of rage. He is placed in the mental institution against his will after an intense fight with another young classmate (it's either that or face criminal prosecution). Forced to deal with other patients in group therapy situations, Lyle quickly befriends Chad (film co-writer Michael Bacall), a young man with a bi-polar personality disorder, and becomes attracted to Tracy (Zooey Deschanel of Almost Famous), a quiet, haunted girl.

Other patients in the ward include Sara (Sara Rivas), a recovering drug addict who takes Tracy under her wing and is uninhibited in her expression of her feelings, and Michael (Elden Henson), another recovering drug addict who is a compulsive liar and believes he is black despite all evidence to the contrary. Finally, there is a 12-year-old named Kenny (Cody Lightning), with whom Lyle feels an almost instant connection.

Heading up the group round-table session is Dr. David Monroe (Don Cheadle), who uses his own experiences as a recovering drug addict to try to help his young patients heal as they find their way towards a sort of inner-peace.

Adding to the stark reality of the tale is the fact that the film is set in an actual abandoned mental health facility. Northwood Mental Institution was built in the 1930s, and served as Southern California's highest capacity state-run institution until it was sold and privatized in the late '80s. A wing specifically built for adolescents in 1993 was designed with specific colors and furniture that were intended to foster a serene atmosphere. Northwood was shut down after several patients were reportedly injured by staff security and patient-on-patient violence and suicide attempts reached virtually uncontrollable levels.

Helmed by first-time director Jordan Melamed and written by debut screenwriters Blayne Weaver and the afore-mentioned Bacall, this raw drama is so brutally honest it could be mistaken as a documentary if it didn't have recognizable actors in Gordon-Levitt and Cheadle. The film is finally scheduled for release in theaters nearly a year-and-a-half after it appeared at Sundance. IFC Films is planning only a limited number of venues, so it will most likely be appearing in large cities and probably more festival circuits throughout the summer. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for Manic
Main Cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Maggie Baird, Don Cheadle, Blayne Weaver
Supporting Cast Adrienne Rollo, Lydell M. Cheshier, Roxie Fuller, Zooey Deschanel
Director Jordan Melamed
Screenwriter Michael Bacall, Blayne Weaver
Distributor IFC Films
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating R
Running Time 100 minutes
Screen Count 1
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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