Touched With Fire @ Au Contraire Film Festival

touched with fire2When at first you hear that a film is going to deal with the subject of two manic depressives meeting at a psychiatric hospital and falling in love you cannot help but roll your eyes.  Rarely are these things done well.  Usually there is plenty of glossing over of things and romanticizing of things.  Not the case here.

Both Carla (Katie Holmes – from television’s Dawson’s Creek) and Marco (Luke Kirby – Shattered Glass, Mambo Italiano) have been diagnosed as bipolar and end up hospitalized at the same time on the same ward.  At first the two creative souls, he a poet/rapper and she a published poet, are like oil and water, but as time goes on they forge a bond based upon their feelings that they are outsiders.  As they grow closer they launch into full manic phase and it manifests itself into strange ideas like an attempt at returning at the far off planet they feel they come from.  Their parents and doctors believe they are not a good combo and so separate them.  Then comes the depression.  Deep for both.


After being released into their parents’ care and attempting to reconnect they finally do and embark on a romantic relationship.  Soon the ideas come back of wanting to stop their medications and being outsiders.  Their parents confront them causing Carla and Marco to run off in order to stay together.  When they are caught a life changing issue comes up and the two lovers have to decide what is more important – stability or creativity?


An interesting question is posed by the film: Can two mentally ill people enter into a stable romantic relationship?  The ups and downs of portraying this question are portrayed by Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby.  Both turn in strong performances.  Holmes has the tougher job as she has to portray both sides of the coin – being enamored with the wild fits of creativity and the belief that the illness is not beneficial to artists or those in relationships.


Multi-tasker Paul Dalio (screenwriter, director, editor, and scorer) had his hands in almost every aspect of the film.  You cannot really blame him when you learn that he wrote this film based on his own experiences living with being bipolar.  The personal touch is there and you can tell that Dalio poured a lot of himself into the film thus giving it a more authentic feel than most of this subject matter.



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