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 is also the first time Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel have worked together as each other's main interest in a film, the second being (500) Days of Summer.
Lyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is admitted to the juvenile psychiatric ward of a hospital after beating another teen with a baseball bat during a baseball game; the other teen thought "it was funny" that Lyle's father was physically abusive. It's Dr. David Monroe's (Don Cheadle) job to get Lyle to talk in group therapy sessions. Lyle's mother placed him in the institution against his will after the incident in hopes of helping him control his anger. Lyle is placed in a room with Kenny (Cody Lightning) a reticent, thirteen-year-old child molester and they form somewhat of a sibling relationship. Lyle has problems adjusting to the confinements of the institution; he continually has confrontations with Michael (Elden Henson) and the two come to blows multiple times. One night, Lyle is awoken by screaming; Tracy (Zooey Deschanel), another patient, has recurring nightmares of her rape. Lyle finds himself attracted to Tracy, but she is reluctant to become close to him due to her low self-esteem and her fear of him. While in their room at night, Kenny and Lyle began a discussion about their fathers, at which point Kenny announces that his stepfather is going to visit him. When Kenny's stepfather visits, Kenny is hesitant to be left alone in a room alone with him, and the audience later finds out that the stepfather molests him. Due to a confrontation between Dr. Monroe, Kenny, and his stepfather, Kenny is transferred to another unit of the institution, leaving Lyle without a roommate. Lyle becomes upset when he hears of the sexual abuse, so in an attempt to comfort him, Tracy apologizes for the situation. This sets Lyle off and he pushes her against the wall. After she begins crying, he throws himself at her and kisses her, which causes her to run off. After the incident, a group meeting takes place in which the patients and Dr. Monroe discuss about their worries and the situation with Kenny. Michael feels no remorse for Kenny and states that he received 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 points out the similarities between Lyle and his abusive father. During his stay, Lyle forms a friendship with Chad (Michael Bacall) and the two make plans to go to Amsterdam with the money from Chad's trust fund. Chad and another patient, Sara (Sara Rivas) 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 because of the borders on the painting and the fact that the road leads to nowhere. 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 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 his key to get into Tracy's room. He apologizes and the two embrace. The day of his escape, Lyle searches for Tracy, whether or not he wanted to say goodbye or to bring her along on the trip is uncertain. 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 to the point that 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 thinking that it is no place for him since there is nothing wrong with him. He waits at the bus terminal and when it pulls up, there is a poster of Van Gogh's "Wheat Field with Crows" on the side of it. Seeing the painting, Lyle is reminded of the argument between Chad and Sara. Lyle does not board the bus, instead he walks back to the institution.