March 28, 2010 - Life gets crazy inside the psych ward in this 2001 film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun), Don Cheadle and Zooey Deschanel. Michael Bacall, who co-wrote the movie, also has a starring role.

Gordon-Levitt plays Lyle, a teenager in California who has definite anger issues. He's sent to the juvenile psych ward after he nearly beats a kid to death with a baseball bat. Other patients on the ward include Chad (Bacall), a manic-depressive; the withdrawn but promiscuous Tracy (Deschanel); Sara, who uses art to help her cope with her mommy issues; and Kenny, who's so traumatized that he can barely get out of bed. Cheadle plays the psychiatrist trying to help them all while battling some demons of his own.

For the most part, Lyle actually comes off as quite normal, even something of a leader. He befriends Chad, reaches out to Kenny and flirts with Tracy. But, just when it appears that there's hope for all of them, things suddenly change. Lyle's explosive anger surfaces and threatens to undo all the progress that he's made.

Overall review: *** The word for this film is intense. We learn the characters' back stories by what they tell each other and by what they reveal in group therapy sessions. In Lyle's case, we even see some flashbacks. The handheld camera work and the lack of any continuous soundtrack heighten the intensity and allow us to give these interesting and troubled characters our full attention.