Lyle Jensen is subject to sudden and violent outbursts, and he is committed to the juvenile wing of the Northwood Mental Institution. Several other youths are there with a variety of ...
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Lyle Jensen is subject to sudden and violent outbursts, and he is committed to the juvenile wing of the Northwood Mental Institution. Several other youths are there with a variety of serious problems. Lyle interacts with other patients and staff on a human, and sometimes not so human level. The psychological problems of the patients also forms the fabric by which we see what's right with them, and what's wrong with the society that affects them. Written by
Scott from Milwaukee, WI, USA
Following a fight which left his classmate with 50 stitches to the head, Lyle (Levitt) finds himself admitted to a juvenile ward of a private psychiatric facility.
The new admission's fellow patients are being treated for a variety of conditions: Chad (played by co-screenwriter Michael Bacall) suffers from an acute manic-depressive disorder; the self-mutilating Tracy (Deschanel) wakes up screaming in the night; tough-guy Mike (Henson) asserts himself through violence; and the shy, diminutive Kenny (Lightning) has been sexually abused by a family member.
The clinic's psychologist Dr Monroe (Cheadle) attempts to get these troubled individuals to explore their feelings and to take responsibility for their actions in group therapy sessions.
Is it ever going to be possible for them to find real meaning in their chaotic existences?
Shot with a powerful immediacy on handheld digital video, the debut feature of director Jordan Melamed is a US indie which borrows from the spirit of the best Dogme films.
There's little in the way of a conventional story here - just a powerful concentration on character and atmosphere.
Set almost entirely within the confines of a psychiatric ward (where shoelaces are removed in case of attempted suicides), the film steers clear of the phony redemption offered by the likes of "Girl, Interrupted" and "Good Will Hunting".
Partly through some astute editing, Melamed conveys the strange rhythms of institutional life for these adolescents: the sense of boredom and frustration is mixed with frenetic bursts of energy, whether on the basketball court or in a slamdance trashing of the recreational room.
The dialogue is often biting - "Do you think being black is talking **** and wearing baggy clothes?" Monroe asks white B-Boy Mike.
The performances are also impressively convincing, while the ambiguous ending is in keeping with the rest of this edgy, sincere drama.
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