a frequently irreverent and occasionally cerebral feuilleton of richard armitage studies
Collating some additional Brain on Fire reviews (ICYMI, with comments) #richardarmitage
Vanity Fair. Makes fundamental critical error of not taking the object seriously on its terms as a first step, before initiating shred. Moretz is not very good, but a film isn’t necessarily bad just because it’s earnest.
Hollywood Reporter. Right that the supporting characters are written flimsily, but wrong that the film does not consider the Cahalan’s hostility to a psychiatric diagnosis or show their relief after they get an effective diagnosis. Did they walk out after 2/3?
Screen Daily. I wonder where the line falls between “use” and “overuse,” since there are tropes for this kind of thing. I don’t think Barrett lingered overlong on the subway platform or spent too much time using the camera to question perception. Also, I think the problem with Moretz (jumping around vs the wide-eyed look) is equally a problem of script as it is of performer.
Esquire. Describes gender level of the film as “straightjacketed.” I don’t disagree with that (as you now know), but it seems like that is who Tom Cahalan is.
We Live Entertainment. I thought this was a pretty fair review, although they are more optimistic about Moretz than I was. Richard Armitage brings a lot of emotion — yes. The story tends to get over-focused on one theme to tell the story — yes.
Live for Film. Points out briefly that it’s the supporting actors who fill some of the better scenes in the film.
Reel Film Reviews. Says that the only positive impact is made by Jenny Slate as Susannah’s friend, Margot. Slate does get one affecting scene, but that seems a bit overstated to me and ignores most of the last third of the film. I wasn’t especially touched by them but most viewers will probably enjoy the scenes between Moretz and Mann, for instance.