Sundance London 2013: Touchy Feely
Friday 26th April, 12:30pm – O2 Cineworld (Sky Superscreen)
Saturday 27th April, 5:45pm – O2 Cineworld (Screen 6)
Sunday 28th April, 9:00pm – O2 Cineworld (Screen 9)
Lynn Shelton’s new film returns to the visually poetic style of her previous features Humpday and Your Sister’s Sister, but sadly Touchy Feely doesn’t quite pull it off.
Rosemarie DeWitt plays Abby, whose prowess as a masseuse is established in an early scene by her client’s dreamy request: “Will you marry me?” Abby’s brother Paul (Josh Pais) also works with bodies, but where Abby is sensual and spiritual, Paul is a socially awkward, factual and straightforward dentist. He is happy to sit in the X-ray room while fewer and fewer patients come through the door of his failing practice. At the crux of it, this is a family drama into which Shelton has tried to shoehorn magical realism.
Abby’s turning point comes when, inexplicably, she develops an aversion to bodily contact. This is demonstrated through beautiful and textured close-up shots of skin: her hands and legs, and the smooth back of a client. At the same time, Paul somehow develops a healing touch that allows him to cure long-suffering patients and consequently helps his business pick up. Neither transformation is explained, nor do they cohere with the style of the film, thus seeming little more than hooks on which to hang a flimsy plot.
Nevertheless, DeWitt is excellently cast, acting as the fulcrum around which the action happens. The actress conveys the overwhelming affect of her new affliction on all aspects of her life. Josh Pais lays it on thick with his character, making Paul’s complete uselessness in social situations painful to watch, and setting up his comical Reiki scene – from slapstick sneezing at incense, to flinching at any bodily contact.
The film starts slowly but then seems to lose focus, careering off into MDMA trips and the brief return of Abby’s former lover. He crops up, apologises for breaking her heart and then is never seen again. Touchy Feely has an interesting premise but is trying too hard to be too many things, with Shelton’s many irrelevancies culminating in an odd and undeserved all’s-well-that-ends-well finale.
Touchy Feely is released on 26th April 2013.
Read more reviews from the Sundance Film and Music Festival 2013 here.
For further information about the Sundance Film and Music Festival 2013 visit here.
Watch the director talking about Touchy Feely here: