Maniac is a show directed by and produced by Cary Fukunaga. Some of his other work includes Beasts of no Nation, Jane Eyre and True Detective Season 1.He is also going to direct the upcoming James Bond movie. It also stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill and follows two characters who enter a mysterious pharmaceutical test. I don’t want to say much more about the plot because the less you know about this show, the better the show will be.
Obviously, the cast and crew made me super excited for the show. I adore Emma Stone and Jonah Hill is a fantastic actor. I haven’t seen Fukunaga’s work, but the fact that he got picked to direct Bond definitely got me even more excited. Thankfully, this show is fantastic.
Part of the reasons for this were the exceptional performances put in from Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. Both of them make their characters believable and that is a trememndous task when you consider what the characters have been through a lot and the actors do a really good job in portraying the pain and baggage the characters have. Certain episodes that stood out to me were episode 2 and episode 7. Emma Stone nails those scenes. There also a couple moments in the finale where, in my opnion, Jonah Hill puts in his best performance.
Even the side characters were mostly great. The actress who played Ellie had great chemistry with Emma Stone. Justin Theroux was also convincing in his role even though I didn’t buy his character all the time. He has this really weird relationship with his mother, played by Sally Field. They bounce off each other really well and make those scenes quite entertaining. Despite all these performances, I did not buy Sonoya Mizuno in her role. She was way too over the top for me and her perfomance, as well as the writing for the character took me out of the show at points.
Even though the writing is occassionally off and the show does have a few pacing problems, Fukunaga mostly does a good job with the plot and overall direction. He manages to craft a story that is sometimes funny, shocking and surprisingly emotional. All of these aspects of the story make it super engaging and created a unique show. The unpredictability of Maniac kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. I say it was surprisingly emotional because the trailers hinted at a more wacky show than what we actually got. There are tons of moments that made me quite emotional. Some of the ones that stood out to me were the final scene, the mirror scene and the car scene in episode 2. I won’t go into more details but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you watch the show. There are also many more moments that were executed really well.
Another part of the writing that I found effective was how much the main characters grow. None of the character growth or development in the show feels forced. It all felt like it comes naturally from the scenarios these characters were put in. I did feel like they could have fleshed out the supporting cast a bit more. Maybe that would have made Mizuno’s character more likeable.
One of my favourite parts of the show was the visual effects. Most of them were absolutely exceptional such as the entire medieval plot in the later episodes. I also felt like the show was super colourful and even when the plot was slowing down, the colours made Maniac feel more exciting during these moments. Another techinical aspect that normally added to the overall quality was the score. Mostly, it is great as it helps build most of the scenes and the tension. However, I felt like it could have been more unique depending on the setting.
In conclusion, Maniac is an extremely unique and exciting show crafted by Fukunaga and is brought to life due to exceptional performances from Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux and Sally Field, as well as stunning visuals. It does suffer from pacing problems and has some issues with certain characters. Although it has minor problems, Maniac has more going for it and thus, gets an A from me.