Do you know what autoimmune disease is? No, neither did I. Autoimmune disease is when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses and when it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes parts of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells. To be honest, even thinking about it possibly happening to me or anyone of my friends or family is scary.
Brain On Fire follows Susannah Cahalan (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young adult living her dream life in the middle of New York, with her newly found boyfriend, Stephen Grywalski (Thomas Mann) and her dream job as a journalist at the New York Post. Things couldn’t get any better for Susannah until she starts to feel ill, thinking it’s only something minor like the flu, it turns out that doctors with years of experience do not know what is happening to her. Her mother, Rhona (Carrie Ann-Moss) and father, Tom (Richard Armitage) do everything in their power to discover what is truly going on with their daughter.
Based on the true memoir of Susannah Cahalan, Chloë Grace Moretz performed with strength and stability. I believed the condition she was in and that’s all down to Gerard Barrett’s direction. With his success in Pilgrim Hill (2013), he has been within the midst of other up and coming directors, waiting for the perfect opportunity to arise. Brain On Fire has been on the shelf since 2016 but has only just been put onto Netflix this June. In areas, you do struggle to understand what’s going on at times but that may be due to Barrett trying to make the illness believable. Barrett and Moretz have done their research in order to make the audience learn about a severe disease which is hitting the world. They connect to grab the audience’s attention, definitely grabbing mine with the plot.
However, the film is far from perfect. The pacing is off and some of the scenes feel planted. The construction of the film is confusing, are they trying to make the film exactly like how the illness is or are they trying to structure a simple story? The trouble with true stories is as much as they are emotional and hard-hitting, it’s hard to grasp when it’s not structured properly. I am someone who gets sucked in by the line “based on a true story”. My interest is there from start to finish. It had all the gimmicks, for example, a boyfriend who plays soppy acoustic music, not that it’s a bad thing, it made a good cover for the profound sadness and undertone of the movie. Brain On Fire probably lands within the realm of movies like Concussion (2015) and Stronger (2017). Very similar in terms of story and how intriguing the story is but just falls flat. You want them to be great but they just don’t hit the chords truly right.
Chloë Grace Moretz performed to the best of her abilities and took on Gerard Barrett’s directions. I feel although she is searching for the role that will send her off the scale in terms of acting. This film had all that promise for her but it hasn’t sent her acting career to infinity just yet. She’s still young and will soon find her adult breakthrough performance soon. Give it time, Moretz.