Monday, February 8, 2016

Touched With Fire

A film about bipolar lovers who bring out the mania in one another, Touched With Fire is overheated yet oddly inert, constantly invoking impassioned inspiration without ever quite evoking it. The film gets its title and its main theses from a scientific study of the link between bipolar and creativity by Kay Redfield Jamison. Marco (Luke Kirby) fetishizes the book, name-checking many of the bipolar artists it investigates (Lord Byron, Emily Dickinson, Van Gogh, Tchaikovsky…) and insisting that his condition is not an illness but a kind of benediction, a state of enhanced sensitivity and creativity that inspires the (crappy) poetry he prides himself on, a form of improvised rap.

Carla (Katie Holmes) is also a poet, her work more conventional that Marco’s but every bit as mediocre. (Just because you’re bipolar doesn’t mean you’re a genius). She has a very different take on their shared condition, experiencing it as a source of shame and distress until she hooks up with Marco at an in-patient psychiatric hospital, where the two meet late at night in the activities room, bonding over a shared conviction that they are aliens from another planet and a shared obsession with heavenly bodies—the sun for her and the moon for him.

Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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