Brain On Fire Book Trailer Assignment

Brain on Fire is a 2016 American-Canadian-Irish biographicaldrama film directed and written by Gerard Barrett, based on Susannah Cahalan's memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Jenny Slate, Thomas Mann, Tyler Perry, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Richard Armitage. Principal photography began on July 13, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. It had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2016.


Susannah Cahalan (Moretz) is a New York Post writer, who works with her boss Richard (Perry) and desk neighbor/co-worker Margo (Slate). She meets a sound producer named Stephen (Mann) and they become friends. Susannah begins to experience strange things (such as in a state of trance, people — who are not actually present — talking about her and being sensitive to annoying noise) and her behavior becomes unusually erratic. After several days of mishaps made by her in the office due to her shifty behavior, Susannah suffers a seizure while in bed with Stephen on her side.

After consulting with a clinic, her father Tom (Armitage) confronts Stephen about not calling her parents regarding the incident. Tom suggests that she stay with her parents, which Susannah refuses to do, but in the end she leaves to stay with her mother and stepfather. At her mother's house Susannah has another seizure. She is taken to a clinic where Susannah undergoes an MRI. The doctor advises her mother, Rhona (Moss), that Susannah has been partying too much, working too hard and not getting enough sleep. While at her doctor's appointment, Susannah thinks that she has bipolar disorder, after reading online that "creative people are bipolar." The doctor prescribes an anti-psychotic pills but she refuses to take these after reading about their side effects, believing these are causing her symptoms. Rhona gets her to take the pills anyway, but during dinner, Susannah unleashes her aggressive behavior. Rhona begs Susannah's father to look after her instead but after Susannah has a breakdown her parents demand that she is hospitalized despite MRI, EEG and physical tests all show normal results.

One of the doctors says to her parents that she is possibly suffering from schizophrenia. The doctor tells them that if Susannah's behavior doesn't improve, she will be transferred to another hospital, where they can deal with psychological problems. Susannah rapidly becomes catatonic, and Dr. Souhel Najjar is asked to help in investigating her case. Najjar states that Susannah's drawing of a clock means that she can't be bipolar or schizophrenic. Najjar has her undergo a brain biopsy in order to take cells from her brain for diagnosis. It is found that she has an anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and Najjar describes it as her "brain is on fire." Dr. Najjar successfully gives Susannah proper treatment.

Seven months later, Susannah is back at work and presents her first written piece to Richard since her recovery. A grateful Richard tells her to start writing a book about her experience. Sitting at her desk, she begins to compose the story, entitled Brain on Fire.



On May 1, 2014, Deadline reported that Charlize Theron had acquired the film rights to Susannah Cahalan's 2012 memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.[6]Dakota Fanning was set to play Cahalan, a young woman who one day wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the events of the previous month.[6][7] Theron would produce along with Beth Kono and A.J. Dix through her banner Denver and Delilah Productions.[6] On January 22, 2015, Gerard Barrett was set to write and direct the adaptation, while Rob Merilees of Foundation Features would produce and finance the film.[8] London-based Mister Smith Entertainment sold the film to international distributors at 2015 Berlin Film Festival.[9]Will Poulter was added to the cast on February 4, 2015, to play the boyfriend of Cahalan.[10] On May 26, 2015, Thomas Mann and Jenny Slate were reportedly in talks to join the film, where Mann would play Cahalan's boyfriend, replacing Poulter.[3] On June 26, 2015, it was announced that Dakota Fanning had left the project due to scheduling issues, and Chloë Grace Moretz replaced her for the lead role.[2] On July 7, 2015, it was announced that Broad Green Pictures had come on board to produce and finance the film as well as distribute the film in the United States, while Lindsay Macadam would also produce along with producing partner Merilees.[11] On July 16, 2015, Carrie-Anne Moss and Richard Armitage were cast as Cahalan's parents, Rhona Nack and Tom Cahalan, respectively.[5] On July 20, 2015, Tyler Perry joined the film to play Richard, Cahalan's boss at the New York Post.[4]


Principal photography on the film began on July 13, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia.[5][11][12] Moretz was spotted filming at the Vancouver General Hospital.[13] On July 18, Moretz was filming a scene of a near-miss by a taxicab and the Vancouver street was transformed into Manhattan.[14] Production on the film concluded on August 10, 2015.[15]


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2016.[1][16] Shortly after, Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film.[17]


  1. ^ ab"Brain on Fire". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  2. ^ abKit, Borys (June 26, 2015). "Chloe Grace Moretz to Star in 'Brain on Fire' (Exclusive)". Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  3. ^ abcFleming Jr, Mike (May 26, 2015). "Thomas Mann, Jenny Slate Join 'Brain On Fire'; Dakota Fanning Stars In Woman's Descent Into Madness". Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ abSneider, Jeff (July 20, 2015). "Tyler Perry Joins Chloe Moretz, Jenny Slate in 'Brain on Fire'". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  5. ^ abcdJaafar, Ali (July 16, 2015). "Carrie-Anne Moss And Richard Armitage Board 'Brain On Fire' Opposite Chloe Grace Moretz". Retrieved July 19, 2015. 
  6. ^ abcFleming Jr, Mike (May 1, 2014). "Charlize Theron Options 'Brain On Fire' As Star Vehicle For Dakota Fanning". Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  7. ^Scarf, Maggie (January 12, 2013). "BRAIN ON FIRE My Month of Madness By Susannah Cahalan". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  8. ^Fleming Jr, Mike (January 22, 2015). "'Glassland' Helmer Gerard Barrett Set To Helm Dakota Fanning In Denver & Delilah-Produced 'Brain On Fire' – Sundance". Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  9. ^Barraclough, Leo (January 29, 2015). "Mister Smith Launches Dakota Fanning Starrer 'Brain on Fire'". Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  10. ^Barraclough, Leo (February 4, 2015). "Berlin: Will Poulter to Star Alongside Dakota Fanning in 'Brain on Fire'". Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  11. ^ abKilday, Gregg (July 13, 2015). "Broad Green to Produce Chloe Grace Moretz Starrer 'Brain on Fire'". Retrieved July 19, 2015. 
  12. ^"On the Set for 7/13/15: Jennifer Garner Begins Shooting Miracles from Heaven, Michael Bay Wraps 13 Hours & Doug Liman Calls Cut on Mena". July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  13. ^Brown, Scott (July 16, 2015). "Actress Chloe Grace Moretz researches for 'Brain on Fire' at VGH". Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  14. ^"She's a traffic-stopper! Chloe Grace Moretz suffers a near miss with a cab... but it's just for a scene in new movie Brain On Fire". July 19, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015. 
  15. ^
  16. ^Fleming Jr, Mike (August 16, 2016). "Toronto Fest Rounds Dance Card: Terry George's 'The Promise,' Liev Schreiber In 'The Bleeder,' Terrence Malick Docu Among Pics". Retrieved August 16, 2016. 
  17. ^Thompson, Anne; Winfrey, Graham (February 17, 2017). "Broad Green Pictures Is Missing Release Dates and Angering Filmmakers. Here's Why". Retrieved February 18, 2017. 

External links[edit]

Chloe Grace Moretz struggles with a rare autoimmune disorder in Gerard Barrett's adaptation of the memoir by American journalist Susannah Cahalan.

If you're going to ask an audience to accompany your lead character down a disorienting spiral of memory lapses, paranoid episodes, manic mood swings, hallucinations and debilitating fatigue, it's generally a good idea to make them care about her first. Irish filmmaker Gerard Barrett somehow neglects that step in the wearisome Brain on Fire. That means we watch Chloe Grace Moretz's epic meltdown from a bored distance, until the drama remembers its lost calling as a disease-of-the-week movie. At that point, we receive the abrupt news of a cure with an indifferent shrug.

Barrett (Glassland) adapted the screenplay from the memoir by American journalist Susannah Cahalan, and there's a lot of raw meat here for an actor to chew on, which might explain why producer Charlize Theron optioned the book. It chronicles Cahalan's harrowing experiences with a mystery illness that stumped doctors until it was correctly diagnosed as anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an immune deficiency that causes the body to attack the catatonic brain.

At least that's how Moretz's Susannah explains it in a voiceover that ushers in the story's happy resolution, with a lurching suddenness that seems to come out of nowhere.

The lack of fluidity is partly caused by Barrett operating for much of the movie under the misapprehension that he’s remaking Safe, Todd Haynes' dark portrait of sanity in inexorable retreat. That film had a creepy power to crawl under the skin and stay there with all its ambiguities still percolating. But despite Barrett's careful attention to creating an unsettling mood of existential horror by loading the soundtrack with ambient dread, and his depiction of New York as a breeding ground for overstimulated instability, Brain on Fire just sits there, inert and uninvolving.

At 21, Susannah is happy in what, with just a hint of irony, she calls her "dream job." She's a cub reporter at the New York Post, writing exposés on illegal Russian butt implants. Her boyfriend Stephen (Thomas Mann) is an aspiring musician who describes his sound as The Smiths-meets-Tom Waits (in your dreams, dude), while Susannah's deadpanning work chum Margo (Jenny Slate) calls him "that budget version of Joey Ramone." Susannah's editor, brusque but encouraging Richard (Tyler Perry), thinks she's ready to tackle bigger stories.

But suddenly, she starts zoning out at random moments, suffering from headaches, missing deadlines and meetings, and imagining things that nobody else can see or hear, like bedbug bites or leaky faucets. Following a seizure, Stephen takes her to the hospital, where the doctors' guesswork about stress, lack of sleep and excessive partying doesn't quite explain her lapses into a vacant-eyed trance state. Nor do the misdiagnoses of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia later on.

No longer able to function in the office or at home alone, Susannah goes to stay with her divorced mother Rhona (Carrie-Anne Moss), bouncing between high highs and low lows while taking meds that don't seem to help. One of the weaknesses of the movie is that Rhona, Susannah's banker father Tom (Richard Armitage) and Stephen all lack definition as characters, so they just hover uninterestingly on the sidelines as Susannah goes from screaming anxiety to unhinged euphoria while being shuffled from one doctor to the next. Perry and Slate give their characters more substance and personality, but they disappear for much of the movie.

As Susannah's condition worsens and continues to flummox medics, the film just gets stuck in a repetitive pattern that drains rather than builds tension, a problem inherent in both the writing and editing. There should be some emotional investment in the family's reluctance to send her to a psych hospital, as well as a flood of relief when a doctor finally identifies the problem. But the family connections are so mechanically drawn that it's dramatically ineffectual and emotionally flat.

The film's chief selling point is a pinball-ricochet performance from Moretz that hits all the marks and yet is never wholly convincing — she's more morose than vulnerable, more sullen than terrified. Moretz brought such memorable intensity and preternatural poise to teen roles in movies like Kick-Ass, Let Me In and Hugo; if this project was intended to test her ability to carry a dramatic movie solo as an adult, it's a miss.

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival (Special Presentations)
Production companies: Broad Green Pictures, Foundation Features, Denver and Delilah Films
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Richard Armitage, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tyler Perry, Jenny Slate
Director-screenwriter: Gerard Barrett, based on the memoir
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Producers: Rob Merilees, Lindsay Macadam, Charlize Theron, A.J. Dix, Beth Kono
Executive producers: Lisa Wolofsky, Daniel Hammond
Director of photography: Yaron Orbach
Production designer: Ross Dempster
Costume designer: Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh
Music: John Paesano
Editor: J.C. Bond
Casting director: Maureen Webb
Sales: Mister Smith, WME

Not rated, 89 minutes

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