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+.
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