Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.
2001 US. Director: Jordan Melamed. Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle.
Shot in a pseudo-cinéma vérité style, Manic, at its most basic level, details the experiences of young adults in a mental health facility. It does not preach an agenda, at least not obnoxiously so, instead relying on an intimate connection between the viewer and its very talented group of actors. A very raw film, both in style and substance, this was the film that first showcased Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s considerable talents. His subtle facial tics and expressive body language are both endearing and heartbreaking throughout, and his character is far more nuanced than one would suspect for such an underseen (and underappreciated) film. I would also argue that, despite the fine performances of Zooey Deschanel (who hasn’t quite returned to the heights reached in this film) and always impressive Don Cheadle, Gordon-Levitt also demonstrated his ability to carry a film, stealing most every scene with relative ease. With his popularity skyrocketing due to (500) Days of Summer, Inception, and 50/50, I found it quite worthwhile to revisit what may still be his most impressive turn.
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