Touched With Fire

Two bipolar poets who refuse their meds make a connection in group therapy that sends them on an increasingly delusional romantic journey.

Year: 2015
Certificate: 15
Director: Paul Dalio
Starring: Griffin Dunne, Christine Lahti, Katie Holmes, Bruce Altman, Luke Kirby, Alex Manette, Daniel Gerroll, Edward Gelbinovich, Patrick Byas, Genevieve Adams

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Guest Reviewer: IzzyS [twitter]


“Touched With Fire” is a drama film with a romantic element which features themes including companionship, mental health and creative expressionism. The film does well at clearly putting across how erratic and impulsive bipolar people can be when manic. I felt it was quite well made as it felt relatively fragile in terms of the tone brought across by somewhat jerky and erratic camerawork and the use of what I can only think to describe as delicate, light instrumental music, as if you were watching a play with the musicians performing just below the stage. Suffice to say, its quite atmospheric. The characters seem interesting each with their own issues and views on their mental health conditions etc.

This is a thought provoking film that does a good job at giving people a feel of what its like to live with bipolar, which isn’t something I have experience of, although I have read/heard about it and have had other more minor mental health issues myself. There is a good use of lighting in shots set inside the treatment facility, in as much as I felt the colourful walls and surrounding objects appeared almost artificially bright. Some of the walls I remember being a bright yellow colour – I’m not entirely convinced if thats meant to promote peace and calm, as I know some may feel its a calming colour but to me its a bit bright and garish but then perhaps thats me being a bit unfairly pedantic…

Its delicate feel made it seem rather spooky at times – I found such scenes, when Carla and Marco are discussing things and working together, to be quite engrossing and intriguing. There was almost a mild fantasy type element or feel to it. At times the two main characters are quiet and you may struggle slightly to hear all the dialogue, which could be quite off-putting.

Cast wise, I was particularly impressed with Katie Holmes convincing performance as Carla. She seemed to portray such an edgy, impulsive and nervous, angry and frustrated person very well, with a good use of body language. It’s nice to see Holmes featuring in newer more drama based (rather than ‘chick flick’ type) films. Meanwhile, Luke Kirby plays Marco and he also gives a credible performance, although his is perhaps slightly less memorable. I thought that the two of them did well in seeming to have a certain chemistry and the way they bounced ideas off each other and influenced one another did seem relatively believable, which is (obviously) a good thing. Other cast members include Christine Lahti as Sara, Griffin Dunne as George andBruce Altman as Donald, while Daniel Gerroll plays Dr. Lyon.

As for the content, “Touched With Fire” features some pretty mature themes and could seem fairly frightening to younger viewers (hence the 15 rating), due to the sense of threat present in some scenes, plus it features strong language, moderate violence including self harm. It could be upsetting for people who have bipolar but then it may also be appreciated as a well thought out and made film that makes the viewer think about the condition.

“Touched With Fire” works very well due to the interesting characters and plot, great casting and the use of music and camerawork adding to the sense of fragility and impulsiveness. The dialogue is witty at times and I personally felt it was well thought out and well made in general. It would have been nice to have the character’s background (mainly Carla) delved into a bit more as well. I would definitely recommend this film.


Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

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