[Touchy Feely will be shown today at the Framing Reality film festival in Vienna: 20.30, Filmcasino. They have a focus on Lynn Shelton and Barbara Kopple.]
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page, Josh Pais, Scoot McNairy, Allison Janney, Tomo Nakayama, Shannon Kipp, Ron Livingston
Part of: Framing Reality
Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist who suddenly can’t touch people anymore at all. This severely hampers her relationship wih her boyfriend Jesse (Scoot McNairy) with whom she was about to move in. In the meantime her brother Paul (Josh Pais), a dentist in a floundering clinic, seems to discover that he has a healing touch which he wants to explore with Abby’s friend and reiki practitioner Bronwyn (Allsion Janney). Paul’s daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) who works as his assistant, is slowly suffocating because of both the routine in her life and her love for and need to touch Jesse.
Touchy Feely is a sweet, calm film with a great cast and a good script. It’s enjoyable and smart, even if I’m not all over it.
Touchy Feely is such a calm film that it is a little hard to get excited about it. You don’t leave it absolutely stoked or pumped but with an honest smile on your face and feeling comforted somehow. Even when the drug Ecstasy is involved, the film makes it a calming experience (even if a notably druggy one).
The performances of the actors are equally subdued. There are no grand outbreaks, even when there are big feelings (and there are a lot of those). There are just small gestures and those small gestures mean the world. That makes the one scene where Tomo Nakayama sings stand out even more. Because that is pure and huge emotion and it hits home in the best of ways. [It’s also a really great song.] And through it all there is this fine sense of humor. Especially Josh Pais and Allison Janney are just funny.
Lynn Shelton manages to keep the balance between all those things, which isn’t easy but it is what makes the film work. The characters get proper development and because you get to see that development it doesn’t matter that it’s slow and that they don’t make giant steps. You can laugh with them and cry with them and be insecure with them.
And in the end when the crisis is resolved, it feels good to leave them because all of them have grown and you have this strong feeling that they are going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay. What a wonderful note to end a film on.