touchedKatie Holmes and Luke Kirby

Written and directed by Paul Dalio
Out February 12
Screen Shot 2016 02 04 at 12.50.30 PM

Is “quirky mental illness romance” an official Netflix subgenre yet? If you’ve seen Silver Linings Playbook or It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Touched With Fire will feel very familiar. Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby star as two poets with bipolar disorder who meet in group therapy at a treatment facility. They fall in love, struggle with mental illness, and fight to have a real relationship in spite of their families’ and doctors’ opposition. The film’s tone varies wildly. At times, writer/director Paul Dalio—who has struggled with bipolar disorder himself—pulls off a nuanced, complex consideration of the relationship between mental illness, medication, and creativity. Other scenes, however, play out an idealized love story, complete with passionate lovemaking under a waterfall. It’s like two different movies have been crammed together. Given the film’s subject matter, that may have been an intentional decision, but it doesn’t always work.

Katie Holmes’ performance is a highlight. She expertly conveys her character’s heightened emotions in a way that makes audiences really feel for her. Holmes more than proves that she deserves that elusive post-Tom-Cruise-divorce comeback—but unfortunately, this movie won’t be the one that does it.



By Erika W. Smith

This article originally appeared in the February/March print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today

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