Manic
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
you can't escape yourself This Teen Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest examines adolescent issues from a gritty, provocative perspective, even though the film itself isn't entirely convincing. Lyle (Third Rock from the Sun's Gordon-Levitt) is a 17-year-old who cannot control his temper. After a particularly brutal fight, he's sentenced to a teen mental health facility with a helpful counselor (Cheadle) who obviously has some personal experience in these things. Fellow inmates include: a bipolar kid (cowriter Bacall) who's about to inherit a small fortune on his 18th birthday; a disturbed 16-year-old (Deschanel) to whom Lyle is quickly attracted; a cruel thug (Hensen) who thinks he's black; a goth rebel (Rivas); and Lyle's young, shellshocked Native American roommate (Lightning).

Melamed uses edgy handheld digital video to give the film a documentary texture, heightening the situations and taking us right inside the asylum with these kids. And we do get into their heads due to strong performances all around. But the script lets things down in more ways than one. Firstly, it shows an immaturity that makes it impossible to take seriously; the sequence of events is contrived, while key details seem all wrong, snapping us out of the reality. In addition, there's an improv aspect to the film that feels artificial, like the cast and crew spent a couple of days doing research and then got all the surface things right, but missed the raw meat beneath it all. There are several disturbing twists and turns as the film progresses, but it sometimes feels like a checklist of teen issues, not truthful storytelling. That said, this is still a harrowing film that raises issues that need to be discussed. And the cast deserves to move on to bigger and better things as a result of their fine work here.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 16.Sep.02

dir Jordan Melamed
scr Michael Bacall, Blayne Weaver
with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Cheadle, Michael Bacall, Zooey Deschanel, Elden Henson, Sara Rivas, Cody Lightning, Blayne Weaver, Lydell M Cheshier, Roxie Fuller, Bree Nogueira, Lauren Shubert
release US 25.Apr.03; UK tbc
Next Wave
02/US 1h42

Support system. Kenny and Lyle (Lightning and Gordon-Levitt) try to talk about the issues in their lives...

gordon-levitt cheadle deschanel henson
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... you can't escape yourself hasfhhfkds, net: 4.5/5 "this movie is incredible. I really liked it. It does raise issues and tells what a teenager's life is like. like chad said in the movie, 'why not just give us all pills and we can all be the same person.' It's like if people keep on putting a shroud over the problem so no one will be able to see it, how is anything going to be solved? so maybe some adults should try watching this movie and leveling with it." (31.Mar.05)
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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