Parents' Guide to

Touched with Fire

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Well-acted but heavy and confused bipolar-disorder drama.

Movie R 2016 110 minutes
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This drama attempts to open an earnest discussion of bipolar disorder, and it can be informative, but its message is muddled and indecisive. Plus, everything hinges on a deeply unsympathetic character (Marco). The movie draws inspiration from Kay Redfield Jamison's nonfiction book, which argues that the greatest artists were bipolar and that their manic highs caused extraordinary creativity. Writer/director Paul Dalio seems in awe of this idea (the closing credits pay tribute to several artists), but at the same time, he seems to feel that he must show the disorder's downside, too -- the crippling depression -- and to insert a message about taking medication.

Dalio has a wonderful eye for intuitive, emotional compositions, and the lovely, tinkly music score helps. The actors are terrific: Holmes anchors the movie with her sympathetic character, but Marco projects anger and hatred at anyone who doesn't see eye-to-eye with him, which eventually wears thin.

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