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Parents' Guide to

Brain on Fire

By Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Brain condition ravages young reporter's life; swearing.

Movie PG-13 2018 95 minutes
Brain on Fire Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 15+

Brain on Fire-- a psychology student's review

This movie can be catered to a wide array of audiences. Brain on Fire can definitely cater to professionals, especially in the Psychology field, because it follows the rare case of a fairly new neurological disorder that is not a lot of people know about. It can also be catered to students because it follows an interesting story line of a young 21 year old who is struggling to find herself in her own body and the drama keeps the viewer entertained. Lastly, this movie can be catered to academicians, especially if they are studying Psychology, because it is extremely informational on brain disorders and Anti-NMDA-Receptor Encephalitis. Since the movie is based on a true story, most of it is not fictional and shows reliable information. The story line followed the actual life stories that the real Susannah Calahan dealt with in her life. Since she was a reporter and journalist for the New York Times, she was asked to write a memoir of her story. This definitely facilitated the writers and directors of this movie to be able to recreate her story into a film. The film is, therefore, extremely reliable since they gathered their information from the original source that lived through what the in-film actress displayed. I believe the movie is really entertaining and interesting. It keeps you wanting to see the progression of her mental health. It is interesting to see how her body is reacting to the different things that are going through her head. The main actress, Chloe Grace Moretz, does an incredible job at depicting what it would actually feel like and look like if someone was going through the same thing. She makes the viewer connect with the story and get drawn into it. I would recommend this movie because it seems like a movie that my friends, especially, would have an interest in. It is a well made movie with a good storyline and great actors. The story keeps the viewer entertained and deals with a lot of different concepts that make the viewer think. The scenes of Susannah's manic episodes are brilliant and showcase her incredible acting skills.
age 15+
The movie is very good but tough to watch.l for younger teens or tweens. Also, the sex rating misses references to a man keeping his “d***” in his pants “ as well as a senator. Cheating on his wife. It’s a gray movie though for older teens.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (15 ):

Kudos to the real-life Susannah Cahalan and the creative team for bringing a little-known but harrowing medical condition to light, but the movie as a dramatic film simply doesn't stand up. A good portion of Brain on Fire is devoted to Susannah's behavior and growing anguish as her rare brain disorder takes hold. It really happened. But watching sequence after sequence of an assault on her mind by sounds, voices, and increasingly erratic behavior in the workplace and at home becomes repetitious, and even the chilling seizures lose their impact. Chloe Grace Moretz does the best she can with this grown-up role after a series of resounding successes as a child and teen actress. Supporting players are fine but are given little to play beyond the situation at hand. Still, if the final words that appear on screen are true, Cahalan's memoir has had a major impact on diagnoses of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, and that's a remarkable outcome.

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