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.

~ by Servetus on September 21, 2016.

2 Responses to “Collating some additional Brain on Fire reviews (ICYMI, with comments) #richardarmitage”

  1. Thanks for the overview.

    I don’t get the impression that the person writing for Esquire even got what the film was about. How is a woman with this kind of disease supposed to save herself (in order to be a modern, independent woman of course – I’m being sarcastic). Diagnose and heal herself while affected by a disease thatt attacks her brain? That’s just a new type of stereotype. Men and women can be weak or strong, needing the help of others or not depending on the situation. I find this kind of thinking in a way as frustrating as the more traditional box people used to put men and women in. This is nor a film about ‘the strength of the modern woman’ or about perpetuating a female gender stereotype, but about a disease and issues in the health system.


  2. per the review: The point of Brain on Fire is: “Girls need the world to support them as they heal.”

    You’re right that this isn’t the focus of the story, but they are not wrong that it is a pretty obvious reading of the film. Or: Girls need their daddies to fight for them.


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