Netflix Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Stars in Premier for Maniac
The cinematic times are a-changin — as the Director of the Venice Film Festival demonstrated by including Netflix films and television series in the 75th edition of the Mostra del Cinema.
Nowadays the quality of these series surpasses the average movie, in terms of script and mise-en-scène, bringing to the spotlight this (fairly) new form of entertainment that creates fandom and global participation.
The highly anticipated Maniac — created by Patrick Somerville, and brilliantly directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga — had its New York Premiere Red Carpet and Afterparty on September 21st. The director and exceptional cast (Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Patrick Somerville, Justin Theroux, Billy Magnussen, Julia Garner, Sally Field and Trudie Styler), were greeted with enthusiasm, since the series explores articulately the intricacies of cognizance and interconnectedness.
The ten episodes of Maniac, as in a conventional flick, have a three-act structure, that is however liberated from the patterns of a vertical motion picture narration and spread horizontally, through the structure of seriality.
The story is set in a world that may resemble what the future was expected to be like during the Eighties, in a retro futuristic New York City. Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill), are two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial. The treatment — a sequence of pills invented by Dr. James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux) and supervised by Dr. Muramoto (Rome Kanda) and Dr. Fujita (Sonoya Mizuno) — claims it can repair anything about the mind, be it mental illness or heartbreak. This draws them and ten other strangers to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech for a three-day drug trial that will, they’re assured, with no complications or side-effects, solve all of their problems permanently.
Through this psychoanalytical odyssey Annie will have to confront the loss of her sister; whilst Owen, the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists, will have to come to terms with the pressure of his family for a legal case and a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. But something goes wrong during the experiment, catapulting Annie and Owen into the same dreamlike fantasies.
A grotesque dystopia, with a touch of vintage sci-fi, creates the world of Maniac, characterized by bulky computers, neon lettering on monuments, modern antique technology, and alienating landscapes.
The series is striking in its style, as much as in the philosophical issues it unfolds. Patrick Somerville and Cary Joji Fukunaga skillfully interweave two streams of consciousness into an epic metaphysical pursuit of mindfulness, that will leave viewers thinking upon the mysteries of existence inside and outside our heads.