"Have you ever been trapped? Lost in your own body? Lost in your own mind? Lost in time? So desperate to escape, to just...get out. My name is Susannah Cahalan. I'm 21 year-old. And here I am with my dream job at the New York Post. Living in New York.. I don't know, we all have dreams, right? And don't laugh at me, but to work at the Post was mine(...)
I have my whole life in front of me. I was fearless. And I had absolutely no idea, what was waiting for me(...)
Thanks to Dr. Najjar, I was found. He found me. My body was attacking my brain. - You good? - Yeah. It completely destroyed my ability to function. How many people, do you think throughout history were diagnosed as schizophrenic, psychotic, bipolar, or maybe just being crazy, when they had something that could've been so easily diagnosed? (...)
had to learn everything from scratch. How to walk again. How to talk again. Smile. How to be a daughter. To love Stephen again. How to write. I had to learn how to exist again."
(quotes from the movie)
"Brain on Fire follows Cahalan (Moretz), a rising journalist at the New York Post who mysteriously starts having seizures and hearing voices. As weeks go by and Susannah rapidly descends into insanity, she moves inexplicably from violence to catatonia. Following a series of outbursts, misdiagnoses and a prolonged hospital stay, a lucky last-minute intervention by one doctor finally gives her a diagnosis and hope to rebuild her life. "
Brain on Fire is a 2016 American-Canadian-Irish biographical drama 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. From this point, 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 can with the new results give 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.
Director: Gerard Barrett
Writers: Gerard Barrett (screenplay), Susannah Cahalan (memoir)
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Richard Armitage
Written by: Gerard Barrett
Based on: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
Chloë Grace Moretz
Music by: John Paesano
Cinematography: Yaron Orbach
Edited by: JC Bond
Production company: Denver and Delilah Productions
Broad Green Pictures
Distributed by: Netflix
Release date: September 14, 2016 (TIFF)
Running time: 95 minutes
Country: Canada, Ireland, United States