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» The Hollywood News - Sundance London: Touchy Feely Review

by John Sharp, published on April 26 2013 - 3:10 PM

Touchy Feely

Director: Lynn Shelton.
Starring: Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, Ellen Page, Josh Pais, Tomo Nakayama.
Running Time: 88 minutes.
Synopsis: A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother’s foundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his healing touch.

Don’t worry – this is lighter than it sounds. Though the premise may put you in mind of a powerful but sluggish drama about the fragility of human interaction, TOUCHY FEELY is a warm, accessible and very funny drama. It’s the sort of film JUNO would grow up to be, although it may just feel that way due to the always welcome presence of Ellen Page and Allison Janney. This is an ensemble piece that excels due to its wonderful cast, and though Page and Janney are as chuckle inducing, charming and reliable as ever, the film is really shared between Josh Pais and Rosemarie DeWitt who play Paul and Abby, a dentist and massage therapist who find the trajectories of their lives and personalities overlapping.

Where Abby is free-spirited and sensual until the moment she inexplicably finds herself disgusted by the very notion of somebody else’s skin, uptight and reserved Paul is a dentist in a failing surgery whose newfound healing touch brings popularity and success. These changes drastically affect their relationships with Paul’s emotionally stunted daughter Jenny (Ellen Page), Abby’s physical and spiritual mentor Bronwyn (Allison Janney), and her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy). Throw in Jenny’s borderline incestuous crush on her aunt’s boyfriend, MDMA, and newcomer Tomo Nakayama almost stealing the show from some all-round top performances and you have a very watchable film.

Abby’s decline into an unexplained tolerance of flesh is surprisingly realistic thanks to DeWitt’s grounded portrayal of a woman who suddenly loses one of her defining characteristics. Likewise, Paul’s disbelief at his newfound healing power is made all the more believable by Pais’ superbly anxious, awkward mannerisms and subtle nuances. The truncated dialogue between him, Abby and Jenny are exquisitely realised and keep the film firmly rooted, stopping any possibility of it getting lost in flights of fantasy.

Shelton’s excellent writing is matched by her keen eye, drawing visual links between the cracks in one’s skin and those in the pavement, with the focus tracking beautifully along the flesh of her subjects. While the reestablishment of the equilibrium consists of a person’s struggle to (literally) feel comfortable in their own skin, there is a humanity to all the characters and situations they must overcome that makes TOUCHY FEELY a warmer experience than you may have expected.

Source: www.thehollywoodnews.com

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