“Maniac” – A  Twisted Psychological Joy 

Maniac is an odd tale about a world where rather peculiar happenings occur in a deeply believable yet stylistic way. The world portrayed is mainly written by Patrick Somerville and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, their vision is made clear from the very start – doing things that could be seen as quite experimental, playing with genre tropes and what reality really is.

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The ideas and psychology portrayed through the series are excellently conveyed, the main characters – Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill) are two people whose minds are broken in completely different ways yet are linked by the desire of change. Although I only saw three of the ten episodes at the world premiere – the fundamentals of what is set up for the rest of series was sharply set up, with the two beginning to embark on their mind adventure into a series of genres.

Annie is a woman struggling with addiction, yearning to find more ‘A’ pills. Like many users, Annie does this to go to escape and go back to another time. Emma Stone puts on one of TV’s best performances of the year, playing a darkly comedic person trying to hold onto reality. Owen is a schizophrenia who conjures up people and things that aren’t what we know as reality. Crucial to his story is his family, he is the person in the shadows as we glare on at the happy American dream his family enjoys. Jonah Hill puts on a deeply subtle and moving performance.

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The main story is centred around realities colliding, Owen and Annie meet at a drug trial and during Episode 1 and 2 we get sucked into this non-linear narrative, as Fukunaga cleverly plays with time showing happenings and understanding these characters from different perspectives. This is what sets up the connection between our main characters and it is done greatly.

A key element of film form that has been used incredibly well, is the camera work. Fukunaga has helmed the entire project and his direction is experimental and exciting as he plays with angles, cuts, ratios and does so with passion and it truly pays off – engulfing the spectator into a peculiar yet fantastic world.

Maniac spins into a fascinating vision of the future and is rather darkly hilarious, there will be moments when you will crack into hysterics. Specifically to do with Justin Theroux’s character Dr. James K. Mantleray, he is particularly ridiculous alongside the other odd doctors – these specific characters are portray the essence of how strange this story stretches to go in regards to character, also features a super-computer with feelings?

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Furthermore, Sonoya Mizuno re-teams with La La Land co-star Emma Stone – who puts on a restrained yet nostalgic performance in her ridiculous hairdo, her character is rather simple it seems and shows little human connection which can be seen early on in the series, but this simplicity and bluntness performed by Mizuno is truly compelling and quite hilarious at points.

I attended the worldwide premiere and the reception was absolutely brilliant, Maniac in all it’s wonderful strangness is a must-see.

4.5/5 Stars

Ben Rolph

Maniac will be available on Netflix September 21st

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