Watch the whole thing HERE!
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Touched with Fire stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as two poets with bipolar disorder. It’s the work of Paul Dalio who wrote the screenplay, directed, edited and even wrote the musical score.
“The film was kind of a metaphor for my story,” he says. “It was my struggle to come to terms with all this beauty that I found in this thing and all this horror I found in this thing. And how you reconcile that. It took the form of these two lovers who each represented a different aspect of it. As these two lovers pursue their love, it goes back and forth between agony and ecstasy. They have to come to terms with it.”
The idea for the screenplay came from a conversation with his wife Kristina Nikolova, a filmmaker he met while studying film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The pair were in Bulgaria nearing the end of production on her movie Faith, Love and Whiskey.
She asked him to write a story for her to direct and as she remembers he said, “How about two crazy people meeting in a psychiatric hospital and they have to basically choose between sanity and love?” She said, “Wow, that’s a great idea, but it’s your story,” and the seed for Touched with Fire was planted.
Dalio’s issues with mental health began when he was in his undergrad years for Dramatic Writing at New York University.
He describes breaking into a “hypomanic state when I was experimenting with marijuana,” which he used as a “creative catalyst.”
“I didn’t know at the time (that) if you have the bipolar gene and you smoke marijuana it actually pushes your mind into a hypomanic state,” he says.
“It makes you temporarily more creative with a quicker mind. At first it was thrilling. It got to the point where my fingers couldn’t keep up with my mind. I had to use a voice recorder. Then my thoughts started overlapping and my mind couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. I would go for runs with the voice recorder to try and speed my mind up to keep up with these overlapping thoughts.
“For a while my professors started to really praise my work, saying it was brilliant, which they never had before. I felt like I was tapping into some kind of divine illumination. I started to think I was experiencing God. Visions from God.”
Soon the creativity that once seemed like a gift “took the form of a demon that was inside of me. Possessing me, laughing at me and my mistakes.”
Dalio spent four years gripped by suicidal thoughts and manic behaviour until realizing, “I couldn’t put my family through that anymore so I had to resign myself to living numb on medication and just getting by.”
A meeting with author Kay Redfield Jamison, whose book Exuberance: The Passion for Life, explores the mind’s pathologies convinced him that he could live and work creatively on his medication.
“She said she experiences exhuberance all the time and I absolutely will if I am patient. She also said she doesn’t know one artist who isn’t more creative after bipolar than before bipolar, as long as they are on the meds.
“It changed everything, It gave me hope. I had something to fight for then.”
Paul Dalio who wrote the screenplay, directed, edited and even wrote the musical score for his new film “Touched With Fire.” It’s a personal story for him, not simply because he was so involved with the production, but because it’s in part based on his own struggle with bipolar disease.
Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby star as bipolar poets who meet in a treatment facility. They bond over a shared love of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night” and the story of the “Little Prince,” drawing parallels between the art, their lives and their creativity. Their connection is intense, surviving the powerful highs and anguished lows of their disease but when she becomes pregnant they must take drastic steps to make their relationship work.
Dalio is deep inside his subject here, and the movie drips with compassion and heartfelt emotion that, luckily, overrides the melodrama which seeps into the love story. His portrayal of manic behaviour takes us inside the feeling by using a shifting colour scheme to emphasize the euphoric sensation that characterizes the highest of highs. Coupled with strong work from Holmes and Kirby it’s a lyrical portrayal of the experience of mania.
It’s a tricky subject and while Dalio occasionally overstates his thesis that creative genius lies within the disease—“think about if you’d medicated van Gogh”—he presents it with power and without a hint of exploitation.
Less effective is the story’s tendency to walk a predictable path. As startling as the depiction of bipolar is, a more traditional “Romeo and Juliet” vibes hangs heavy over the proceedings. As parents and doctors work to keep them apart some of the air gets sucked out of the story.
“Touched With Fire” is a flawed but ultimately fascinating look at a delicate topic.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. Two interesting chats for you today. First up, Mr. Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds. This conversation comes years before he wore the red leather suit and made $135 million on his opening weekend. On today’s show we talk about Buried, his riskiest film to date. Then it is my “conversation” with filmmaker Paul Dalio. I use quotation marks because it’s really just one question and an extraordinary 22 minute long answer. His film is Touched With Fire details the lives of two bipolar poets and you do not want to miss his description of four years of battling the disease himself.