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Soundtrack review: Touched with fire (Paul Dalio – 2016)

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Soundtrack review: Touched with fire (Paul Dalio – 2016)


“Touched with Fire” is an upcoming American drama romance film directed and written by Paul Dalio. The film stars Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Christine Lahti, Griffin Dunne and Bruce Altman. Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby are two poets with bipolar disorder whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. When they meet in a treatment facility, their chemistry is instant and intense, driving each other’s mania to new heights. They pursue their passion, which breaks outside the bounds of sanity, swinging them from fantastical highs to tormented lows until they ultimately must choose between sanity and love. The film’s writer and director also wrote the score.

This type of situation is very interesting; the writer / director completes his vision with the music as well and makes it a little harder to talk about the music outside the context of the movie. Or not harder, but whatever I write here might feel incomplete as I am only hearing part of the artist’s vision. Luckily these possible shadows dissipate as soon as the first couple of cues play. It helps that the score is written in one of the sounds dearest to me. I love the minimalistic whisper of the main theme that goes straight to my heart. I like the charming and melodic chimes that are as meaningful as they are simple. They make me thing of a starry night and dream of the outer space… The traces of vintage electronic motifs in “Luni Bin Blues” bring the nostalgia factor in this score and drop another anchor inside me.

The story is about the inside worlds of two tormented souls. Even if I haven’t seen the movie the music shows me that. “Touched with fire” is written in a language those two souls would understand. There are sparks of magic and fantasy that help me feel better what the story is about. There are also echoes of voice over which might put some people off but they work for me, especially when they come in a cue titled “Echoes in the abyss” and “Meet me on the other side”. The woman’s voice that whispers this at the beginning of the later invites me into her world and I am all for fantasies and mysterious journeys, insane or not. This score gives me everything I need; I understand its darkness and I’m not afraid of it. The way “Touched with fire” is constructed makes me feel like I’m part of the story. Paul Dalio does a great job of making me curious about the movie as well with those little inserts that give the music even more meaning.

For an ambient music fan like me this score is a treasure. I just want to close my eyes and let it guide me through this reflective forest. I feel nothing but innocent love dripping from this composition. Just like the voiceovers, the sound effects of brooks and children’s laughter I hear in “God grant us this view” only enhance the experience of listening to this score and make it feel even more natural. I will definitely watch the movie as well and I will keep my eyes (and ears) opened for Paul Dalio because “Touched with fire” was a revelation.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 28 / 28

Album excellence: 100%


01 Touched With Fire

02 Lunacy

03 Carla’s Theme

04 Marco’s Theme

05 Luni Bin Blues

06 Prayer To The Moon

07 Manic Nights

08 Echos In The Abyss

09 Meet Me On The Other Side

10 God Grant Us That View

11 Love In The Garden

12 Touched With Both Our Fires

13 This Is The Place

14 Missing The Mania

15 Eclipse

16 Mania Days

17 Starry Nights



Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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