Touch Me Not (2018)

Touch Me Not
Director: Adina Pintilie
Writer: Adina Pintilie
Cast: Laura Benson, Tómas Lemarquis, Christian Bayerlein, Grit Uhlemann, Hanna Hofmann, Seani Love, Adina Pintilie
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 6.11.2018

In this mix of fiction and documentary, Laura (Laura Benson), Tómas (Tómas Lemarquis) and Christian (Christian Bayerlein) share their journey of (re-)discovering intimacy, looking for connections and overcoming their fears by finding them.

Touch Me Not is a fantastic film. It’s touching, interesting, smart and full of insights. It’s not only a film about intimacy, it is a film that’s intimate itself, sharing something very valuable.

The film poster showing the upper body of a naked woman, throwing her head back mid-orgasm.

Touch Me Not is an experimental film in many ways. It’s an experiment in the way it mixes reality and fiction, in the way it blurs the line between documentary and fiction formats as much as content – and what a freeing mixture that is! It’s an experiment because when they set out to make it, they didn’t know what would come from it. It’s an experiment of how much personal story can be put into a film to get to something universal.

To me, the experiment is a full success. The three protagonists offer themselves with an open vulnerability that is a rare gift and it feels like they are allowing you to accompany them a bit of the way on their journey of (self-)discovery. This shows an immense trust in the audience – and I think you’d be hardpressed not to treasure that trust and treat it as the fragile, yet strong thing it is.

Laura Benson and Hanna Hofmann in the film.

The protagonists are not only well chosen because they make that vulnerability possible, but also because they offer positions that we don’t usually get to see: Laura is barely able to let somebody else touch her. Christian is disabled and needs a lot of assistance. Tómas feels cut off from the world, intensely alienated. They all want sex and intimacy, but they are unsure how they can achieve it. Their attempts reveal a lot about humanity as a whole, I think.

The only thing that didn’t work that well for me is a subplot where Laura basically starts stalking Tómas. I could have done without that or would have liked a more explicit problematization of stalking. Here, it gets an apologetic, almost romantic sheen that is entirely inappropriate. But other than that, I found Touch Me Not absolutely extraordinary and, dare I say it, an experience.

Grit Uhlemann and Christian Bayerlein in the film.

Summarizing: wonderful.

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