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With Jim Sabatini

Touched With Fire

Touched With Fire
Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Christine Lahti, Griffin Dunne and Bruce Altman

Rated: R for language, a disturbing image, brief sexuality and drug use.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 12, 2016 Released by: Roadside Attractions

A prickly if pointed fictionalized tale of manic depression from afflicted, if medicated Paul Dalio (an acolyte of Spike Lee, an executive producer here) is Valentine's Day cinematic counter programming that proves there might be a silver lining in Kate Holmes's film career (if you consider films like The Giver and Jack and Jill).

Not that Touched With Fire (drawn exuberantly from Kay Redfield Jamison's tome) has trouble embracing the highs and lows of love, madness, and being on the up-and-up with the filmmaker's personal dealings with the illness influencing the characters of Holmes - Carla, a published poet, and Luke Kirby's uninhibitedly, artistic Marco, a poetry slammer.

They meet cute at a mental facility - Carla more voluntarily than Marco - and open up to one another which leads to her sharing his frenzied éclat to live in his imaginative clarity. While an unhealthy psychological reliance begins to thrive.

To the consternation of Marco's father (an anguished Griffin Dunne) and Carla's parents (filled with inquietude by Christine Lahti and Bruce Altman) a mutual heedlessness after discharge has them (partially involuntarily) living in the fast lane. Then circumstances warily causes an about-face to get the necessary surveillance though more obstacles and accountability are certainly forthcoming.

Older cineastes may see a little of early Blake Edwards here or much more recently David O. Russell, but Dalio doesn't aim to pigeonhole its characterizations or subject matter to some kind of specious elevation even if the lovers milieu has a retro familial feel. More likely, this restrained depiction isn't really that marvelous of a lovelorn melodrama - for example in tackling the quality of Marco's creativity even before he and Carla dismiss their pharmaceutical controls.

Touched With Fire (renamed from Mania Days) gives the filmmaker (perhaps with a special marketing agenda) a cameo and a chance to experimentally evince niceties of expression and meaning that honestly motivates his performers, notably Holmes with a certain poise and grit not really that present than the equally modestly-budgeted of Pieces of April or even in supporting stances like Wonder Boys. Even so, the result will likely be stifled by its carefully variegated sensibilities and could be a little off-putting to depressives and those handling their ever-changing states of disorder.

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