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Laramie Movie Scope:
Touched With Fire

The craziness feedback loop

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 14, 2016 -- This is a love story about two manic depressives who inspire the best and worst in each other, from the stratospheric highs of love to the self destructive lows of depression.

I was surprised a bit by this film because I thought I knew where it was going, but it ended up in a slightly different place than I expected. Katie Holmes (“Thank You For Smoking”) and Luke Kirby (“The Samaritan”) star as star crossed lovers Carla and Marco, who meet and fall in love in a mental treatment center. What could possibly go wrong?

Marco, who calls himself Luna (short for Lunatic) is arrested by police sitting on a rooftop, smoking pot and staring at the moon. Carla got into trouble for staring directly at the sun, which sounds even crazier. Both Marco and Carla are poets. Both are bipolar, and both are advised that it is psychologically dangerous for them to form a relationship.

It looks pretty obvious where this is heading, but it has a bit different path than the usual narrative that dates back to a time long before “Romeo and Juliet.” Much of the narrative has to do with the parents of Marco and Carla, who suffer with every extreme mood swing their children have. It seems they are constantly checking them into treatment, or bailing them out of jail. It looks like hell.

The movie is based on the book “Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament” by Kay Jamison (who also appears in the film as herself). Like the book, Marco champions the idea that bipolar disorder is the the source of his artistic inspiration, while Carla is not so sure that the artistic reward is worth the cost of going completely out of control.

The crazy, out of control romance between Carla (who is a published poet) and Marco (who is not published) soars to great heights with swirling, moving images of Van Gogh paintings and visions of Carla and Marco as aliens trying to get back to their home planet. This film has considerable visual imagination in some of these scenes.

While the creative juices unleashed by bipolar disorder are somewhat romanticized in this film, the very real drawbacks and dangers of this mental condition are also explored. I have no idea if two bipolar people in a relationship can reinforce the extremes of this condition in each other, as this story indicates, but it sure does look like a scary scenario.

One thing that seems most convincing is the heartbreak and anguish of family members trying to deal with this condition in a family member. That does seem like a very heavy cross to bear. The acting in this film is very good, while the story is a bit weak. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)