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» ScreeCrave Sundance 2013: Touchy Feely - Movie Review

by Christie Ko, published on January 21, 2013

Touchy Feely

Touchy Feely left me a little confused and frustrated. With a talented cast and some genuinely funny material, it seemed set up for success. The issue I had with it was that the story is largely about identity crisis, yet the personalities aren’t very well developed – it was difficult to pinpoint and accept their motivations. The characters also aren’t centrally involved with each others’ journeys, leaving their bonds tenuous when they should have been integral and deliberate. Read on after the jump.

The Players:

Director(s): Lynn Shelton
Screenwriter(s): Lynn Shelton
Cinematographer(s): Benjamin Kasulke
Starring: Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, Ellen Page, Josh Pais

Synopsis:

A family’s delicate balance is in jeopardy when Abby, a lighthearted massage therapist develops a strange aversion to human touch. Her brother Paul, a dentist who is usually stiff and curmudgeonly, begins to develop an affinity for human touch, boosting his business. Their family dynamic changes as both brother and sister find themselves on a journey of reevaluation and self-discover.

The Good:

I liked the idea that Abby has sort of retreated into her body in order to avoid the mental pain of a breakup, masking her psychological insecurities with an inflated sense of comfort in her own skin. Her brother has the opposite problem, stable and comfortable psychologically but disconnected from his body and from human touch. Though it didn’t pay out as I had hoped, I liked this dichotomy very much. I was also very impressed with the cast. Allison Janney and Josh Pais steal the show with a hilarious Reiki tutorial montage.

The Bad:

The characters were underdeveloped and difficult to empathize with. I kept stopping and thinking: “wait, why would he do that? wait, why is she upset now?” Their relationships with each other seemed rather stagnate as well, sort of trailing along after the plot in a non-responsive way. The catharsis at the end is touching but literally artificially induced, which is apropos.

Overall:

I had some issues with this film overall, but was pleased by the performances of the actors themselves. It has good production value and is well paced, but I was hoping for something more cohesive and deliberate in the writing of the characters.

Rating: 5.5/10

Source: screencrave.com

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