I'm guessing the art photography is meant to signify a fragile state; instead, it suggests an attention disorder to which camcorder-wielding filmmakers are dismayingly susceptible.
Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly
The camera work is so self-conscious and so intrusive that it consistently overrides our interest in the characters and their individual dramas.
Dave Kehr - New York Times
Shows more hopelessness than optimism but is never less than honest.
Michael O'Sullivan - Washington Post
Its modesty of aspiration and its naturalism of style are its two most salient values.
Stephen Hunter - Washington Post
While Gordon-Levitt leans hard on an overcompensatory Timberlake scowl, he's kept real by the rest of the ensemble.
Laura Sinagra - Village Voice
Searching for a documentary feel, the camera here is so shaky that you cling to the arms of your chair lest you pitch into the next row.
Jami Bernard - New York Daily News
Absorbing and occasionally disturbing film.
Eric Harrison - Houston Chronicle
All the performances are poignant, and, while the screenplay reaches no new conclusions, it allows the actors room to create and grow.
Philip Wuntch - Dallas Morning News
Melamed and his cast provide more than a few truth-divining moments.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
At the end of Manic I'd seen nothing really new, and the camera style made me work hard to see it at all.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
It's too painful and intimate to let you keep its subjects at a safe distance, as most mental illness films do. That, of course, is the point.
Mark Caro - Chicago Tribune
While it neither succeeds nor satisfies as drama, it's a great calling card for the actors involved, principally Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
Manic has quite a bit to recommend it as well, not the least of which is the lack of Hollywood gloss mental patients.
Tom Long - Detroit News
A riveting troubled teens story that has the unvarnished poignance of first-rank docus (e.g. Streetwise, Decline of Western Civilization III, etc.) on similar thematic turf.
Dennis Harvey - Variety
Excellent performances redeem Jordan Melamed's gritty teenage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
A stunningly potent story of troubled patients at a juvenile mental institution.
Michael R. Farkash - Hollywood Reporter
The group-talk and anguished groping feel true, as does David's frustrations with the kids.
Manohla Dargis - Los Angeles Times
Powerful film packed with profanity and brutality.
Nell Minow - Common Sense Media
Cheadle is excellent and gives this the true credibility it deserves.
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
A dynamo of a movie with solid performances.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Anyone stumbling into the cinema halfway through would think they were watching a documentary, as Manic dispenses with all cinematic flourishes, instead aiming for and achieving absolute realism.
Nick Dawson - Empire Magazine
It's an undemonstrative, vividly authentic film.
Derek Adams - Time Out
This is exactly the kind of film the Dogme 95 movement was meant to inspire.
Ron Wells - Film Threat
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Paul Sherman - Boston Herald
Melamed's slavish devotion to frenetically moving hand-held camera shots is perplexing at first, looking like an obvious attempt at obtaining Dogme 95 credibility.
Matt Kelemen - Las Vegas CityLife
Melamed takes the earnest, tastefully exploitative route.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
As kids-in-a-psych-ward movies go, this one pretty much follows the formula.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Manic's landscape is filled with emotional thunderstorms; don't expect a sunny sky, but you might find a ray of hope.
Elias Savada - Nitrate Online
natural and perceptive work from a cast comprised of amateurs and professionals
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Gordon-Levitt explodes any expectations about him. The rage he projects is so real it becomes its own character.
Jeffrey Westhoff - Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
I've rarely seen the hand-held, docudrama approach done with more intimacy or accuracy.
David Elliott - San Diego Union-Tribune
A movie of heart and substance.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Yes, there are the usual lessons learned, but the movie also speaks the truth about kids who need to lash out but only end up harming each other and themselves.
John Monaghan - Detroit Free Press
The movie works only to the extent you get involved with each kid's efforts or inability to adjust to the traumas of his past.
Jules Brenner - Filmcritic.com
It's not that the film has much to say about teen mental illness, but that it creates a world of people about whom we suddenly care.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
The texture of "Manic" feels honest and the chemistry of the kids is well observed, but even the modest breakthroughs are dramatic conventions that favor the symbolic over the genuine.
Sean Axmaker - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Moviegoers of the world unite! Stand up and tell those indie filmmakers who continue to abuse us with ShakiCam shots, blurring pans and out-of-focus films that we'll seek them out and throw up all over them.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
The film's blurry camerawork, jumpy editing, and oversaturated hues are annoying and distracting.
Kelly Borgeson - Premiere Magazine
McMurphy lolls in his grave.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Melamed pulls out some fascinatingly understated performances that are just restrained and youthlike enough to be startlingly believable (helped, no doubt, by being filmed in an actual abandoned mental institution).
Stacie Hougland - Hollywood.com
Really just a bleaker variant of 'The Breakfast Club.'
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
The acting here sustains and at times even elevates this material, a self-styled teenage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest comprised of elements both good and also not quite fully formed.
Brent Simon - Entertainment Today
Made with sensitivity and obvious good intentions, Manic still feels like a lecture to be endured rather than enjoyed.
Daniel Eagan - Film Journal International
Call it a well-meaning failure.
Glenn Whipp - Los Angeles Daily News
It's a serious, effective first film that deserves your attention, even if it isn't especially fun to watch.
Dean Essner - E! Online
Doesn't garner the sympathy you would expect (maybe because the troubled youth come across as more mouthy than troubled)...Extreme Dazed and Sedated
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
Never clearly defines the machine that its malcontent characters ... rage against, or overcomes its deeply embedded psycho-ward-movie cliches.
Scott Foundas - L.A. Weekly
It begins to feel a little like one of those made-for-TV, issue-of-the-week melodramas Linda Blair used to star in.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Shooting on digital video gives the film a spareness and immediacy that works well with its subject. The portrayals are all so natural and deeply felt that there are moments when it feels like we are watching something that is happening right now.
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
Shows scenes of life in a psychiatric unit, and it's up to you to draw conclusions about the usefulness or pointlessness of the high-tension life of the ward.
Joshua Tanzer - Offoffoff
[A]n unrelenting and insightful look at some deeply disturbed young people and their dedicated but frustrated counselor.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
The young cast throw themselves (quite literally) into their demanding assignments with vigor.
Jan Stuart - Newsday
The film doesn't really go anywhere, other than outside for endless games of basketball, and the group-therapy environment allows for far too many young-actor monologues.
Ken Fox - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Spoiled adolescents fill a mental institution with whining, pouting, and tantrums, and we're supposed to feel their pain.
David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor
Presents a realistic portrayal of the kids' complicated and confounding mental illness.
Bill Pearis - Citysearch
Despite strong performances, the film is too loosely structured with a plot that looks like the director's going down a checklist.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is terrific as the lead in this raw, indie, Gen X version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
A US indie which borrows from the spirit of the best Dogme films.
Tom Dawson - BBC
There are several disturbing twists and turns as the film progresses, but it sometimes feels like a checklist of teen issues, not truthful storytelling.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
I couldn't detect a single false moment in the entire movie.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
Avoids the common pitfalls of the genre, instead giving us an intense character study supplemented by a supporting cast of characters, not vague stereotypes.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Gordon-Levitt, Deschanel and Cody Lightning ... should be commended for matching acting veteran Cheadle's gravity in their roles.
Annlee Ellingson - Boxoffice Magazine