September 20, 2018

CABLE | Emma Stone Feels Like A 'Maniac' on Netflix

"No one sees into your heads but us."
Emma Stone Jonah Hill Patrick Somerville Cary Fukunaga | Maniac Netflix

True Detective season one auteur Cary Joji Fukunaga directs every episode of the slow burn, ultra-experimental ten-episode Netflix miniseries Maniac starring Superbad co-stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. To say it plays as a trippy, surreal ride is certainly an understatement.

Created and mostly written by novelist turned The Leftovers staff writer Patrick Somerville, the darkly comic drama is loosely based on the Norwegian television of the same name and centers on a wild pharmaceutical drug trial that involves strange imaginary detours delving into curing mental illness. Maniac often feels like the singular fantastical episodes of Somerville's previous series (see "International Assassin") remixed with the retro-futuristic elements of Eternal Sunshine.

Fukunaga uses genre filmmaking tricks to explore different aspects of our mental psyches and dissect how trauma affects personal mental health on a daily basis. Both Annie and Owen (Stone and Hill) have histories of depression and their psychedelic fantasies inform the memories they cannot escape. Its unique and highly original interpretation of visualizing emotions really informs us how the characters will progress.

Sonoya Mizuno Patrick Somerville Cary Fukunaga | Maniac Netflix

Maniac's supporting cast is a murderer's row of talent from Gabriel Byrne and Sally Field to Billy Magnussen as different agents of chaos in the pair's drug-fuelled/controlled visions. Sonoya Mizuno and Justin Theroux—both in obscene wigs—as exaggerated, bumbling scientists offer a strange but endearing rapport while bizarrely complementing the seemingly random tales used to express the characters' internal struggles and recreate the act of therapy.

While not always on the mark, Maniac is an intense, layered visual depiction of mental illness. It's a fairly exhilarating yet dreamlike experience that's constantly questioning everyone's own realities. Fukunaga's stunning imagery paired with Sommerville's stark depiction of characters and their explained delusions is somehow totally remarkable yet still connective.

Maniac's ten-episode season is available for streaming on Netflix.

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