Manic is about a group of kids in the children's ward of a psychiatric hospital in California. Lyle (Joseph GordonLevitt, former actor in the TV comedy Third Rock from the Sun) beat someone up at school with a baseball bat and does not have his violent tantrums under control. On the ward, which is mainly peopled by emotionally damaged children from rich families, Lyle initially refuses to play along with the psychological minefield. But when he stands up for a gay boy against the brutal ward bully, he gets involved after all. Then he also has a relationship with the timid and suicidal Tracy. The group therapist Dr. Dave is straightforward in his goodness, which makes him subject to mockery but he is also a stable father figure for the group. He doesn't expect a total cure for his pupils, but is satisfied if they come to terms with their problems and realise they can be helped.In Manic, there is no superficial sweetness or a happy ending that often typify American films about problem kids. Melamed elicits wonderful acting from his cast. To make the young actors feel at ease and film every unexpected movement, he shot Manic on digital video. This makes the effect on the big screen grainy, penetrating and hyperrealistic.