There is a book called Touched with Fire (subtitled Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament), but this movie is not based on that book. Rather, it’s writer-director Paul Dalio's semi-autobiographical story about bipolar characters who are helped by the book—whose psychologist author, Kay Jamison, appears as herself to endorse its contents (oh, boy). Carla (Katie Holmes) and Marco (Luke Kirby) are 20-something poets who meet in a psychiatric ward, where they bring out each other’s manic sides and must be separated. Once released, they pursue a relationship, watched warily by Carla’s parents (Christine Lahti and Bruce Altman) and Marco’s father (Griffin Dunne). The film’s message—take your meds if there are people depending on you—is reasonable but narrowly applicable, and Dalio doesn’t do anything to make it more universal. Moreover, the melodramatic plotting and histrionic performances are at student-film levels. It’s a mediocre but largely unpretentious drama, probably of interest only to those with personal experience with its themes.
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