Brain on Fire (Movie)

Title — Brain on Fire
Available on — Netflix
Production Country — United States, Canada, Ireland
Release Date — 2016
Stricken with seizures, psychosis and memory loss, a young New York Post reporter visits doctor after doctor in search of an elusive diagnosis.

🪶 Story & Synopsis

The biographical drama film “Brain on Fire” directed and written by Gerard Barrett is based on Susannah Cahalan’s memoir “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.” The movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Jenny Slate, Thomas Mann, Tyler Perry, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Richard Armitage.

The story revolves around Susannah Cahalan, a promising journalist at the New York Post, who starts experiencing disturbing symptoms like hearing voices in her head and having seizures. Over time, her condition deteriorates rapidly, leading to erratic and violent behavior, eventually progressing to catatonia. Despite numerous misdiagnoses and a prolonged hospitalization, a doctor’s timely intervention finally provides her with a diagnosis and a chance to piece her life back together.

🧑 Cast & Crew

Chloë Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Richard Armitage, Jenny Slate, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tyler Perry, Alex Zahara

Movie Casting:

Actor Role
Chloë Grace Moretz Susannah Cahalan
Jenny Slate Not Available
Thomas Mann Stephen
Tyler Perry Richard
Carrie-Anne Moss Not Available
Richard Armitage Tom Cahalan

💬 Reviews and feedback

Lights, camera, action! Welcome to the show where we dissect movies with the precision of a brain surgeon… or in this case, a movie reviewer. Today’s feature presentation is “Brain on Fire.” Grab your popcorn and get ready for a wild ride through this rollercoaster of a film!

“Brain on Fire” has been the talk of the town, but not all whispers have been kind. Critics have thrown shade at it faster than a cat avoiding water. But fear not, dear reader, for I am here to give you the lowdown on whether this movie is worth your precious time or if it’s better left in the bargain bin.

Let’s dive into the depths of this cinematic experience and see what makes “Brain on Fire” tick… or misfire.

Acting and Characters:

First up on our list is acting. Picture this: Chloë Grace Moretz giving her least subtle and empathetic performance yet. Ouch! It seems like her portrayal missed the mark by more than a country mile. The acting overall falls short, leaving us scratching our heads and wondering if there was a casting mix-up somewhere along the way.

Binge-watching Tip: If you’re in need of some top-tier acting after this flick, why not revisit some classic Meryl Streep performances? She never disappoints!

Plot and Themes:

The heart of any good movie lies in its plot and themes. In “Brain on Fire,” we follow Susannah Cahalan’s harrowing journey through misdiagnosis and recovery from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. The message of advocacy and perseverance shines through like a beacon in the foggy sea of confusion that is this film.

But alas, despite the compelling real-life story at its core, the execution falls flat like a deflated balloon at a birthday party. It’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded—confusing and unsatisfying.

Direction and Cinematography:

Now let’s talk about direction and cinematography. The visuals should transport us to another world, immersing us in the story unfolding before our eyes. However, “Brain on Fire” seems to miss the mark here as well. The pacing feels off, like a broken record skipping over crucial moments that could have elevated the viewing experience.

Binge-watching Tip: Looking for visually stunning films? Dive into Christopher Nolan’s filmography for mind-bending visuals that will leave you mesmerized!

Production Design and Special Effects:

When it comes to production design and special effects, we expect nothing short of magic on screen. Unfortunately, “Brain on Fire” seems more like a low-budget school play rather than a blockbuster hit. The special effects fail to impress, leaving us wanting more… much more.

Editing and Pace:

A movie’s pace can make or break it, much like driving through rush hour traffic versus cruising down an open highway. Sadly, “Brain on Fire” feels more like being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with no end in sight. The editing lacks finesse, causing scenes to drag on longer than necessary.


Ah, dialogues—the bread and butter of any scriptwriter worth their salt. In “Brain on Fire,” the dialogues feel as uninspired as yesterday’s leftovers reheated for dinner. There’s a lack of depth that leaves us yearning for more meaningful interactions between characters.

In conclusion, “Brain on Fire” may have had good intentions with its poignant message of perseverance in the face of illness, but its execution falters like an actor forgetting their lines on opening night.

So grab your metaphorical umbrella because this film is about as stormy as it gets!

Rating: 4/10

Remember folks, even diamonds have flaws! So next time you’re scrolling through your watchlist looking for something new to watch—maybe skip over “Brain on Fire” unless you’re feeling particularly adventurous!

And always remember: life is too short for bad movies! Stay tuned for more reviews that will tickle your funny bone and maybe even spark some movie magic in your heart!

Pros Cons
Well-made movie Downbeat and not particularly involving story
Great actors Chloë Grace Moretz’s least subtle, least empathetic performance
Uplifting storyline Falls short on acting, pacing, and tone
Deals with advocacy and perseverance Does a billion little irritating things that add up to something worse
Inspiring true story Less likely to bring awareness to the rare autoimmune disorder


  • Brain on Fire (film) - Wikipedia

    Brain on Fire(film)

    Brain on Fire
    Directed by Gerard Barrett
    Screenplay by Gerard Barrett
    Based on Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

    by Susannah Cahalan

    Produced by
    • A.J. Dix
    • Beth Kono
    • Rob Merilees
    • Lindsay Macadam
    • Charlize Theron
    Cinematography Yaron Orbach
    Edited by JC Bond
    Music by John Paesano


  • Brain on Fire (2016) - IMDb


    • jlacroix-229-990371
    • Jun 6, 2017
    • How long is Brain on Fire?Powered by Alexa


    • Release date
    • Countries of origin
    • Official sites
    • Language
    • Also known as
      • Ma & Chiếc Đồng Hồ
    • Filming locations
    • Production companies
    • See more company credits at IMDbPro

    Box office

    • Gross worldwide
      • $10,846
    • Runtime1 hour 28 minutes
    • Color
    • Sound mix
    • Aspect ratio
      • 2.39 : 1

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  • Brain on Fire | Rotten Tomatoes

    Brain on FireWhere to WatchBrain on Fire

    Watch Brain on Fire with a subscription on Netflix.

    Critics ReviewsAudience ReviewsCast & Crew

    Gerard BarrettDirectorChloë Grace MoretzSusannah CahalanThomas MannStephenJenny SlateAngelaRichard ArmitageTom CahalanCarrie-Anne MossRhona Nack

  • Brain On Fire | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix - YouTube

  • Brain on Fire (2016) - Plot - IMDb

    A young, capable professional cannot explain her newly erratic behavior.The film follows the harrowing experience of a writer struggling with a rare neurological disease from when she first suffers symptoms to the many attempts at diagnosing it and the eventual discovery of the real cause of her illness. Based on the book, ‘Brain On Fire’, the true story of Susannah Cahalan, a journalist for the New York Post.—Danny

⚠️ Explanation (Spoiler)

In the movie “Brain on Fire,” directed by Gerard Barrett, the story revolves around Susannah Cahalan, a young journalist portrayed by Chloë Grace Moretz, who suddenly starts experiencing seizures, hallucinations, and violent outbursts. The plot follows her journey as she battles skepticism and misdiagnosis from the medical community while trying to uncover the true cause of her mysterious symptoms with the help of her family and boyfriend.

The main characters include Susannah Cahalan, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, who struggles with a rare autoimmune disorder causing her symptoms, Thomas Mann as her supportive boyfriend Stephen, and Richard Armitage as her father Tom Cahalan.

The movie concludes with Susannah finally receiving a proper diagnosis for her illness after months of suffering from a severe neurological disorder. She is diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare autoimmune disease. With the support of her loved ones and medical team, she undergoes treatment and begins to recover.

Susannah reflects on her challenging journey, the impact on her relationships and career, and the importance of advocating for oneself in the face of medical challenges. The film ends on a hopeful note as Susannah rebuilds her life, appreciating her health and the support of her family and friends.

Overall, “Brain on Fire” is a gripping drama that sheds light on the real-life struggles of individuals battling rare medical conditions and the importance of perseverance and support in overcoming such challenges.

👪 Parents Guide & Age Rating


Age Rating:

This movie is rated PG-13.

Parental Guide:

Parents should be aware that “Brain on Fire” contains intense and frightening scenes that may not be suitable for younger teens or tweens. The film depicts the protagonist experiencing episodes of psychosis, vertigo, violent seizures, and emotional meltdowns. Additionally, there are references to a man keeping his “d*” in his pants and a senator cheating on his wife, which may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

Due to the nature of the content, this movie is more suitable for older teens who can handle the intense themes and mature references portrayed in the film.

📺 Streaming and where to watch

streaming service extra information
Netflix Brain on Fire can be watched on Netflix. Susannah Cahalan, an up-and-coming journalist at the New York Post becomes plagued by voices in her head and seizures.

❝ Quotes and Cult

  • Sometimes, Just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.
    Susannah Cahalan
  • Despite this premature cancer scare, I had remained nonchalant, some would say immature, about my health; I was about as far from a hypochondriac as you can get.
  • I had asked him many times why he stayed, and he always said the same thing: "Because I love you, and I wanted to, and I knew you were in there." No matter how damaged I had been, he had loved me enough to still see me somewhere inside.
    Susannah Cahalan
  • Her EEG was completely normal," Bailey protested, looking through my file. "MRI normal, exam normal, blood work normal. It's all normal." "Well, she's not normal," my mom snapped as I sat there, quiet and polite with my hands folded in my lap.
  • How many people throughout history suffered from my disease and others like it but went untreated? This question is made more pressing by the knowledge that even though the disease was discovered in 2007, some doctors I spoke to believe that it’s been around at least as long as humanity has.

🤖Brain on Fire Reddit Talks

Reddit Summary: “Brain on Fire”

Movie Overview:

“Brain on Fire” is a biographical drama film based on the memoir of the same name by Susannah Cahalan. It follows the story of a young journalist who is diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that causes her brain to become inflamed. The film explores the challenges she faces as she struggles to find a diagnosis and treatment, and the impact it has on her life and family.

Critical Reception:

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Some praised its powerful performances and emotional impact, while others criticized its slow pacing and lack of depth.

Discussion Topics:

1. The Importance of Advocacy and Perseverance:

Susannah Cahalan’s story highlights the importance of advocating for oneself and persisting in the face of adversity. Her experience shows that even when doctors are unable to provide a diagnosis, patients should not give up hope.

2. The Stigma of Mental Illness:

The film also sheds light on the stigma associated with mental illness. Susannah is initially misdiagnosed with a psychotic disorder, and her symptoms are often dismissed as psychological rather than physical. This highlights the need to challenge stereotypes and increase awareness of the various forms that mental illness can take.

3. The Challenges of Diagnosing Rare Diseases:

“Brain on Fire” illustrates the challenges doctors face in diagnosing rare diseases. Susannah’s symptoms are initially puzzling, and it takes several months for her to receive a correct diagnosis. This emphasizes the importance of thorough medical investigations and the need for doctors to consider all possible causes of a patient’s symptoms.

4. The Impact on Family and Friends:

Susannah’s illness not only affects her but also has a profound impact on her family and friends. They witness her decline and struggle to cope with the uncertainty of her condition. The film explores the emotional toll that caring for a loved one with a serious illness can take.

5. The Power of Hope and Recovery:

Despite the challenges she faces, Susannah eventually recovers from her illness. Her story offers hope to others who are struggling with rare or difficult-to-diagnose conditions. It demonstrates that even in the darkest of times, recovery is possible.

6. Accuracy of the Film:

Some viewers have questioned the accuracy of the film, particularly in its portrayal of Susannah’s symptoms and the timeline of her illness. However, the film is based on Susannah’s own memoir, and she has stated that she believes it is a faithful adaptation of her experience.

7. Comparisons to Other Works:

“Brain on Fire” has been compared to other films that explore the themes of mental illness and misdiagnosis, such as “A Beautiful Mind” and “Girl, Interrupted.” It has also been praised for its resemblance to the Netflix series “Unbelievable,” which tells the story of a woman who is wrongly accused of a crime.

8. Impact on Public Awareness:

The film has raised awareness of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a rare but potentially fatal brain inflammation. It has also helped to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and encouraged people to seek help if they are struggling with unusual symptoms.


“Brain on Fire” is a powerful and moving film that explores important themes related to mental illness, diagnosis, and recovery. It sheds light on the challenges faced by patients and their loved ones, and highlights the importance of advocacy, perseverance, and hope in the face of adversity.

Top discussions

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Brain on Fire get bad reviews?

Despite telling a harrowing story, Brain on Fire received negative reviews due to its downbeat and not particularly engaging portrayal of Susannah’s journey back from the brink of madness. Critics found the film to be a slog with issues in acting, pacing, and tone.

Is Brain on Fire a good movie?

Brain on Fire has been criticized for being a 90-minute film that falls short on various levels, including acting and pacing. Some reviewers described it as a movie that does many little irritating things that collectively detract from its quality.

What is the message of the movie Brain on Fire?

In Brain on Fire, the main message revolves around Susannah Cahalan’s journey of misdiagnosis and recovery. The film emphasizes the importance of advocacy and perseverance in the face of illness, highlighting the challenges faced by those with health issues.

What is the story behind the movie Brain on Fire?

Brain on Fire is based on the true story of Susannah Cahalan, a New York Post writer who experienced a mysterious illness leading to misdiagnosis and a harrowing journey back to recovery. The film portrays her struggles and the challenges she faced during this period.

🔀 Recommended Movie and TV Show

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  5. Unthinkable (2010) : A suspenseful film about a terrorist threat and the moral dilemmas it presents.
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  7. Girl, Interrupted (1999) : A drama based on the experiences of a young woman in a mental institution.
  8. A Beautiful Mind (2001) : A biographical drama about the life of mathematician John Nash.
  9. The Good Lie (2014) : A drama following the journey of Sudanese refugees to the United States.
  10. Stronger (2017) : A biographical drama about a man’s recovery after the Boston Marathon bombing.
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