Filmmaker Paul Dalio has delighted the critics with his “masterful drama” called Touched with Fire. The film starred by Katie Holmes and lead actor Luke Kirby shows a couple of bipolar poets who meet in a psychiatric hospital.

With this semi-autobiographical debut, the director who was diagnosed with bipolar disorders in his 20s aims to normalize the bipolar spectrum.

Starring Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Christine Lahti, Griffin Dunne. Credit: Texas Art Film

Dalio, the 36-year-old director, writer, and film score composer of Touched with Fire says that it is common for films about manic-depression to look at disorders from a family-and-friends point of view, which he describes as frustrating. He said in an interview with The Washington Post that filmmakers should be interested in displaying characters from the inside.

Touched with Fire was inspired by a book with the same name, written by Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at John Hopkins University, who is also bipolar and plays herself in the film. In her writing, she explores the relationship between bipolar disorder and artistic creativity.

According to Jamison, who discusses bipolar artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Virginia Woolf in her book, Dalio’s masterpiece offers a new way to look at the subject since films are usually “melodramatic, condescending, patronizing and idiotic”, unlike “Touched With Fire” that focuses on patients.

“The purpose of the film is for people to see through the eyes of someone with bipolar, to look through their bloodshot eyes and to see that the most beloved image of a sky,” Dalio says.

Symbolism and bipolarity

Van Gogh’s painting “The Starry Night,” is the leitmotif throughout the film. Dalio said to Michael O’Sullivan, art writer at The Washington Post, that the Dutch post-Impressionist painter was a bipolar patient between 1889 and 1990 when he would see the starry night. If audiences are able to value beauty in his images, they should not worry about the “lunatic homeless person” who painted it, he explains.

The bipolar artist graduated from New York University’s film school, where he has mentored by director Spike Lee. Lee helped Dalio in “Touched with Fire”, after he was planning to create a safe commercial debut described as a combination of a Russian Mafia film, The Lion King, Hamlet, and The Godfather.

The film has already debuted in the U.S.A. and Canada in limited movie theaters. According to critics, the movie features at bipolar disorder from an uncommon approach, which is “not all dark and not all light”

Source: The Washington Post