Manic (2001 film)

Manic is a 2001 American drama film directed by Jordan Melamed and written by Michael Bacall and Blayne Weaver. It was shown at several film festivals in 2001 and 2002, including the Sundance Film Festival. The region 1 DVD was released January 20, 2004. This also marks the first time actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel have worked together as each other's main love interest in a film, the second being (500) Days of Summer.[3]

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJordan Melamed
Produced byTrudi Callon
Kirk Hassig
Written byMichael Bacall
Blayne Weaver
StarringJoseph Gordon-Levitt
Zooey Deschanel
Michael Bacall
and Don Cheadle
Music byMichael Linnen
David Wingo
CinematographyNicholas Hay
Edited byMadeleine Gavin
Gloria Rosa Vela
Next Wave Films
Distributed byIFC Films
Release date
  • January 27, 2001 (2001-01-27) (Sundance)
  • May 23, 2003 (2003-05-23)
Running time
102 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$69,958[2]


After brutally beating another teen with a baseball bat during a baseball game, Lyle Jensen, an impulsive and aggressive teen, is admitted to the juvenile psychiatric ward of a hospital along with other troubled teens: Tracy, Chad, Michael, Kenny, and Sara. Lyle is placed in a room with Kenny, a reticent 13-year-old, and form some semblance of a sibling relationship. Lyle has problems adjusting to the confinements of the institution and it is Dr. David Monroe's job to get them to talk in group therapy sessions.

Lyle finds himself attracted to Tracy. She is reluctant to become close to him due to her low self-esteem. Tracy has constant terrible nightmares. Lyle becomes curious about why she screams at night and later finds out she is a rape survivor. In their room, Kenny and Lyle begin a discussion about their fathers, at which point Kenny announces that his stepfather is going to visit him. After a disastrous visit, it is revealed that the stepfather sexually abuses him. Following a confrontation between Dr. Monroe, Kenny, and his stepfather, Kenny is transferred to another unit of the institution.

A group meeting takes place in which the patients and Dr. Monroe discuss their worries about the situation with Kenny. Michael, a violent sociopath, feels no empathy for Kenny and states that he got what he deserved. At this point, Lyle jumps up and attacks Michael, but the guards pull them apart. Dr. Monroe becomes upset at Lyle and begins throwing chairs around the room, demonstrating to Lyle that reacting out of anger accomplishes nothing. The two later have a conversation in which the doctor apologizes.

During his stay, Lyle forms a friendship with Chad, who suffers from bipolar disorder and agoraphobia. The two make plans to go to Amsterdam with the money from Chad's trust fund. Later, Chad and Sara have an argument over Van Gogh's painting Wheat Field with Crows; Sara states that the painting represents freedom, while Chad states that the painting represents depression and confinement. Sara is soon released and departs from the psychiatric ward, leaving Tracy heartbroken. When it comes close to Chad's eighteenth birthday, he backs out of the plan to go to Amsterdam stating that running off to another place will not change his life. However, he encourages Lyle to go ahead without him. The day before his release, Chad cuts himself while reading The Myth of Sisyphus. When discovered, he attacks one of the guards and cuts the guard's neck, causing him to be removed from the ward. During the scuffle between Chad and the guard, the guard drops his keys, which Lyle takes without notice. That night, Lyle uses the keys to get into Tracy's room. He apologizes and the two embrace and kiss.

The day of his escape, Lyle searches for Tracy. Unable to find her, he asks Michael of her whereabouts. Michael inquires if Lyle has raped Tracy yet since "she wants it." This enrages Lyle, and moments later he breaks into Michael's room and attacks him, leaving him lying bloody in a corner. When he leaves Michael's room, he sees Tracy and tells her that he was looking for her. She says nothing and does nothing as he unlocks the door of the institution and runs out the gate. Lyle leaves the institution and makes his way to a bus stop. He waits at the bus terminal and when it pulls up, there is a poster of the Van Gogh painting on the side of it. Seeing the painting, Lyle is reminded of the argument between Chad and Sara. Lyle does not board the bus and instead walks back to the institution.



The film features music by Thurston Moore, Aphex Twin, Deftones, Squarepusher, Broadcast, and Sleater-Kinney.


  1. "MANIC (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2001-12-06. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  2. Manic at Box Office Mojo
  3. Dave Kehr (2003-04-25). "Manic". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
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