Classic Review: Touched with Fire (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Touched with Fire” which originally appeared here.

Carla (Katie Holmes) and Marco (Luke Kirby) are two poets with bipolar disorder whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. When they meet in a treatment facility, their chemistry is instant and intense driving each other’s mania to new heights. They pursue their passion which breaks outside the bounds of sanity, swinging them from fantastical highs to tormented lows until they ultimately must choose between sanity and love.

Funny story about this one, I know the title is Touched with Fire but every time I talk about this film with other people, I refer to it as Touched by Fire which is an easy mistake I suppose. Katie Holmes hasn’t been in too many things as of late (as far as I’ve noticed). Out of her other films that I’ve seen, I’ve never found her to be that amazing of an actress. When I heard about the attention she’s been getting for this role, I thought I’d give this film a try. This one is about a woman named Carla (Holmes) and a man named Marco (Kirby) who are two poets with bipolar disorder. Once they meet in a treatment facility, chemistry begins to develop between them, driving each other’s mania to new levels. So this is pretty much a love story with the only caveat being that they both happen to have bipolar disorder. That fact is very evident here throughout as both actors go all out with this.They definitely brought on the crazy here where they believe each of their similar problems help them with their own art. Both Holmes and Kirby did a great job at expressing their respective crazies in a realistic way. They were both very captivating and I was interested on where everything would go. The film featured a series of audio and visual cues like music and fantastic images when either character was facing their own manias. These were fun to watch but I sometimes got the impression that the film was glorifying mental illness by associating it with genius as if it was needed in order to be successful. Both characters were facing a dilemma throughout the film of whether or not to medicate themselves as they felt they were hindering their own lives and creativity. This started from their first meeting at the institution and went on to when they both got out and attempted to start a life together despite their ongoing mental health issues. This was interesting to watch but I would have liked it to have gone longer than it did. Their institution scenes probably went on a little too long and then their attempts of making a life together were cut short. I suppose there had to be some resolution but I would have liked a different resolution. What kept me engaged were the performances of Holmes and Kirby. Holmes was great here, making Carla feel vulnerable and subdued and made her illness feel real. Kirby did the same which made them perfect for each other. Their chemistry kept me going. They make you want them to be together even though you know they shouldn’t. Overall, this is a good film about a love story featuring mental illness that doesn’t really talk about mental illness but is led by great performances.

Score: 8/10

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