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Maniac 2018 *****

Netflix’s promotional campaign for Maniac didn’t make much of it being based on a Norwegian tv show; indeed, despite the star power of Jonah Hill and Emma Stone in the leads, it’s pretty hard to describe Maniac at all; it’s a multiple-story drama that slips in and out of different realities in a way that’s reminiscent of Italo Calvino’s metafictional If On A Winter’s Night, a Traveller. The set up is that Annie (Stone) and Owen (Hill) meet when taking part in a pharmaceutical experiment into dreams; run by the untrustworthy Dr Mantleray (Justin Theroux) the motives of the Neberdine Pharmaceutical Biotech are hard to discern, but Annie and Owen have little time for looking at the bigger picture when they are thrust into different scenarios, including a shaggy dog story about a missing lemur, a fantasy sequence in a Game of Thrones style, and a 1940’s adventure in which they are con-artists at a séance attempting to discover a magical missing chapter from Don Quixote. Surprisingly erudite and literary, Patrick Somerville’s creation is constantly entertaining, and is given a wonderfully modern sheen by Cary Fukunega, making him an ideal choice to shake up a stale Bond franchise. Everyone concerned with Maniac, down to support from Gabriel Byrne and Sally Field, aces their contribution in an innovative, revolutionary television show that puts most films to shame and is the best reason for a permanent Netflix subscription to date.


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  1. I will admit that I started watching this because I am a fan of Emma Stone and was interested to see how she could turn her talents to a TV format. I was not disappointed I was gripped by the thought that had gone into the setting, a 1980s view of what 2019 would look like, and the way the multiple stories of love and grief played out across the different realities. Amazing show.

  2. That first episode is such a pretentious bore to slog through but it’s necessary in order to get to the good stuff. From the second episode on the series gets better and better. By the time I got to the last episode I couldn’t rightly describe what I had just watched but I knew I enjoyed the ride. Highly Recommended.

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