‘Maniac’ a quirky, experimental exploration of mental health

Maniac stars Jonah Hill and Emma Stone as Owen Milgram and Annie Landsberg respectively, two totally unconnected individuals who sign up to an experimental pharmacutical trial that says it can cure any mental health problem they might have.

The trial involves taking a newly created drug, hooking yourself up to a supercomputer Matrix-style and going through a set of supposedly therapeutic simulations.

Things take a dramatic turn when, in a twist that feels like it was pulled straight out of a Douglas Adams novel, the supercomputer running the simulations becomes horribly depressed.

The biggest strength of the series is definitely the different simulations it contrives for Hill and Stone to play around in.

Each one of them is vastly different from the others and gives the actors a chance to really flex their acting muscles.

One simulation has Stone starring in a thinly-veiled Lord of the Rings knock-off, while another has the pair playing as a married couple in a madcap heist comedy.

While it can sometimes be a bit jarring switching back and forth between them, the interconnecting scenes in the real-world laboratory help provide a few moments of stability before the madness begins again.

While it’s attempts at a nuanced look at mental health sometimes falls flat, it is still a lot better than most other films or series out there. Combine that with a strong performance from the whole cast and an irresistable charm, and Maniac becomes a fantastic piece of experimental filmmaking.


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