TIFF 2016 Review: “Brain on Fire” (2016) ★★★★


Unfortunately, we live in a time where doctors are getting more careless and heartless; visits to the hospital has turned into a regular routine where physicians treat the patients primarily as a source of money. True or false is a personal opinion each and everyone can have. However, what happens in Brain On Fire  is a great example of labeling young people or jumping to conclusion when extra effort is required to save one life.

Susannah Cahalan (Chloë Grace Moretz) has an excellent career at New York Post. She gets interview assignments and works hard to get her first ever front page article. That of course is her dream she wants to make it come true. But all of a sudden she starts acting and doing strange things that surprises everyone around her. Slowly, an intelligent bright woman turns into an uncontrollable insane person. Realizing that there is something wrong with her health going on, Susannah approaches Dr. Ryan to find the cause of her unexpected change in behavior, but all what she hears in return is to party less, stop drinking and have enough rest…

As the story unfolds, Susannah’s colleague and friend (Jenny Slate) tries to be as supportive as possible to help Susannah overcome troubles she gets at work. Her boyfriend, Stephen (Thomas Mann) stays beside her while all specialists tell the same thing – she has no issues with health whatsoever. But one day when she was on the edge of locking up in a psychotic facility, Dr. Khan  (Aqam Darshi) approaches  Dr. Najjar (Navid Negabhan) who finally manages to find the cause of her madness – where her own body sets her brain on fire.

Brain on Fire is based on Susannah Cahalan’s memoir where she describes the nightmare she had to go through until one doctor’s effort, who finally manages to explain her strange and sometime, terrifying behavior. The writer and director Gerard Barrett casts Chloë Grace Moretz to portray a real person where the task, I must admit, for the actor was not so easy to accomplish. Luckily, Moretz with her performance, delivers enough tension and depth to the character she played, which will help you to sympathize with Susannah even more.

In conclusion, Brain on Fire is a solid drama about a mislead diagnosis and the mistakes doctors make every day. Also, it may not be one of the best movies ever made based on a true story, but it certainly is a decent one when you will find yourself fully engaged throughout. In the end, it’s quite an important film to watch as stories like this happen with many people, but not all of them are lucky enough to get its happy ending.

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