“Touched With Fire” Walks The Fine Line
By Skip Sheffield
“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness-“ Aristotle.
If you have ever thought there is a fine line between genius and madness, you may be right.
“Touched With Fire” is a movie about bi-polar disorders written and directed by Paul Dalio, who is bipolar himself. It is inspired by a book written by bipolar psychologist Kay Jamison.
“Touched With Fire” is also a love story between two artists who meet in a psychiatric hospital. Emily, who calls herself Carla (Katie Holmes) and Marco (Luke Kirby) who calls himself Luna, are both poets. Carla’s bipolar disorder caused her to drop out of college. Marco, is in a manic phase (bipolar is also called manic-depressive) in which he has stopped eating and sleeping and literally can’t sit still.
The conventional treatment of bipolar disorders is with tranquilizers or anti-anxiety medications; “downers” if you will. The problem with that is it dulls the creative impulses. This is quite a dilemma for an artist who gets inspiration from the manic phase.
While “Touched With Fire” is a love story between two similarly-afflicted people, it is a very different love story. The parents of Carla and Marco (Christine Lahti, Bruce Altman and Griffin Dunne) feel they are bad for each other. When they are forced apart, rebelliously they get back together. When they are chased by police Marco does something really crazy that nearly gets them both killed. Theirs is clearly a case of you can’t live together and you can’t live apart. Then something else happens to deepen their bond yet drive them farther apart.
Katie Holmes does the best work of her career as Carla. This is no ordinary mad woman. She is sweet and charming and caring, but there is something she just can’t control.
I am not familiar with Canadian actor Luke Kirby, but he does a convincing job as the even more screwed up Marco.
“Touched With Fire” is not depressing, although there is no simple happy ending. It is educational. Stick around to the end credits and see how many famous artists and writers may have been bipolar.