The Netflix series Maniac keeps the viewer locked into the couch for binge watching, in what feels like a film divided into episodes rather than a miniseries. The cast shines, as teen stars turned movie icons Jonah Hill and Emma Stone lead us into a dark world of obscurity and wonder.
The miniseries centers around a pharmaceutical drug trial and the mind altering trips that the main characters opt to go through for money, drugs and promises of a happy existence.
Visually, the show’s aesthetic is truly something to behold. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga takes the viewer on a trip to a futuristic yet vintage landscape of various retro themes. Combining the series’ psychedelic plot along with Darren Lew’s minimalistic cinematography style, it is as if Fukunaga is taking us on an actual psychoactive drug trip, as the story unravels around the schizophrenic mind of Owen Milgrim, who cannot distinguish reality from his hallucinations. Carefully selected shots bring together beautiful movement of color and light, presented with dramatic moments of dialogue.
Hill does a spectacular job playing Owen Milgrim, an unemployed schizophrenic who tests pharmaceuticals in order to make money and achieve happiness. The character goes through different levels of dull and catatonic states, all played brilliantly by Hill.
Stone’s performance is hauntingly good. She plays an addict that joins clinical trials in order to gain access to drugs. The chemistry between Hill and Stone is electric, as it’s development has been ongoing, beginning years ago in the movie “Superbad.”
With an excellent supporting cast, including TV and film legend Sally Field, who lights up the small screen with her performance as Dr. Greta Mantleray, and Justin Theroux as Dr. James Mantleray, there are unexpected performances in the program that are sure to steal scenes.
Netflix can’t miss with this remake of a Norwegian television series in their arsenal. It’s as if they took an Oscar-worthy film, broke it apart, and put it on the streaming service. This is one of those miniseries that will end up being Emmy nominated in every category possible and sweeping. The streaming network proves once again that they can put together a standout cast in a well produced program.