Maniac | Review


Published on Sep 25, 2018


Maniac is a miniseries autoconclusiva consisting of only 10 episodes created by Patrick Somerville (The bridge, The Leftovers, and directed entirely by Cary Fukunaga (True detective, James Bond 25). Maniac is based on the eponymous original series, the Norwegian-created by Espen PA Lervaag, Håakon Bast Mossige, Kjetil Indregard and Ole Marius Araldsen.

The main protagonists of this remake of Maniac are Annie Landsberg, played by Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man, Birdman, The Land), and Jonah Hill (the 40 year old virgin, night at the museum 2 – escape, Django Unchained), in the role of Owen Milgrim. The two actors are also among the producers of the series, and the characters from their interpretatati will find it to be in any way connected with:

Annie, Owen, and other people with mental disorders as they have decided to participate in a clinical trial that is presented as the ultimate solution to their problems: taking one tablet a day and being monitored by a team of doctors, highly qualified, volunteers will be able to finally release their psychosis in just 3 days of treatment! A proposal definitely tempting, especially for people like Owen, who have already tried conventional therapies, but did not achieve any kind of improvement.

The idea at the base of the medicine is in truth an ambitious project: to heal any type of disorder and mental illness with just three pills, taken in just three days, eliminating for ever not only the plague of mental illness, but psychotherapy, considered by dr. James K. Mantleray, played by Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive, Zoolander, Star Wars: The last Jedi) as the fallacious and obsolete, because he is not even a real science.

According to dr. Mantleray, if it is possible to understand the mechanisms at the basis of the functioning of the mind, then it is also possible to “transfiguring it”, to reconstruct it. The method elaborated by him and his colleague, Robert Muramoto provides for the taking of a different tablet to the day, each marked by one of the first three letters of the alphabet, and each with a purpose and a different effect on the patients.

Once taken the pill, the clinical trial participants are seated on chairs and connected to a special computer, which monitors what is happening in their minds.

The genre to which it belongs Maniac is defined as recursive, allostoria, fantastoria or alternative history: this is a fictitious narration set in a world very similar to our own, but where history went in a different way. In this case, the future represented can be seen as utopian or dystopian, depending on how much you love the ’80s: in this world, technology has evolved in certain fields in an unexpected way, while the other recalls the ’80s: for example, TV and screens for the PC are the old CRT, and virtual reality, which exists, however, presents a outdated graphics and “spixellata”.

This original mixture produces environments visually very attractive, but the references to historical epochs vintage also extend to other factors, such as the use of color, sometimes a particularly vivid and bright (the 80's), sometimes more, warm, for a touch even more vintage, the clothing of the characters, reminiscent of the ’70s, and the same logo of the series recalls that of the Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies (NPB), the pharmaceutical company funding the clinical trial, which logo in its turn, recalls that one of the IBM:

Annie's so called visions that the drugs that they are testing on if the same produce in the minds of the patients. The visions, called “reflexes”, are different from person to person and have the purpose to raise awareness to the volunteers of the traumatic event that gave rise to their disorder (tablet “A”), of breaking down the defenses that the mind creates (tablet “B”), and, finally, to put an end for ever to the disorder (tablet “C”).

Thanks to this narrative device, it was possible to create different “multiverse brain magic” both for Owen and for Annie, that range from representations of more or less realistic to fantasy, which also gives variety and vitality to the series as a whole.

The “reflections” but they have a purpose, and for this, paying attention to the details of the lives of the protagonists and what they see in their minds, you'll notice the recurring elements, but these visions are not ends in themselves: each story should have a therapeutic end, and awareness of the growing up to achieve complete healing. For this, the character dream of “reflections” brings to mind films such as Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, the works of David Lynch such as Mullholland Drive and Twin Peaks, Open your eyes/Vanilla Sky, and lovers of manga and anime will also find some similarities with the Tsukuyomi the Infinite, created by Uchiha Madara in Naruto.

Visually and symbolically, the worlds created for Maniac are fascinating and complex, rich of references to the lives of the protagonists, and, if properly interpreted, will lead not only to Annie and Owen, but also the spectators to find out how to work the minds of the characters in Maniac.

Another means to make known to the spectators of the characters is to get them to talk to very often between them, and let them tell about episodes of their past lives, real or fictitious, that are; however, these will be the moments in which the narrative will proceed sent, but the flow of time on the screen will seem to slow down.

Maniac is a miniseries autoconclusiva thick, which brings to the screen images and symbolic messages fascinating, and that, on the strength of a good director and actors up to the task, is presented as a product of excellent email and appreciable for fans of the genre, though sometimes the narrative can be rather slow.


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