by Brad Liberti, published on August 29, 2013|
Lynn Shelton is perfectly aware that holistic medicine isnt for everyone. In fact, when she decided to set her sensuous new film, Touchy Feely, amidst the New Age world of hands-on healers, she wasnt even entirely sure it was for her: Its funny to me," she says, "because theres the rational, science-based part of my brain, that is just like, What the .???!!!! But then theres another part that is like, I know what I feel when Im doing it, and what I get out of (it), and I dont know why it works, but it works for me!
It not only works for the gifted writer-director of celebrated indies My Effortless Brilliance, Humpday, and Your Sisters Sister, it also inspired her to make perhaps her most personal film to date. I started to think about what it would be like to be a massage therapist, which really blows my mind, that you can have such an intimate relationship with the naked bodies of total strangers! Wouldnt you ever just be like, I cant touch another body??!!! Lets say you were really good at what you did, and you got a lot of external validation, and that sort of fed into your sense of identity, but you just couldnt do it anymore. How would your ability to function in the world affect your self-perception?
Clearly, this is an artist who isnt afraid to get a little metaphysical and fortunately, she isnt scared of shaking things up either. I had made three films in a row that were three characters in one location over the course of a long weekend, and they were great, and there was a lot of freedom with those kinds of parameters, but I wanted to break out of that and have an ensemble cast with multiple storylines.
Cue some of the most reliably fantastic, decidedly un-Hollywood actors working today including, Ellen Paige, Allison Janney, Josh Pais, Scoot McNairy, and Ron Livingston.
At the heart of it all, however, is the exquisite Rosemarie DeWitt, playing a woman attempting to rebuild her life after experiencing an existential crisis similar to the one Ms. Shelton previously described. It was a challenging role for the deliciously natural star of Rachel Getting Married and Promised Land, but the actress was happy to reteam with her Your Sisters Sister director. I love (Lynnes) unique take on the world," the actress says, "the lens that she looks at her life through. I find it really compassionate, really human, and I like being a vessel for her weird brain.
And DeWitt isnt the only one happy to sing Sheltons praises. Pais, underrated yeoman of such indelible gems as The Station Agent, Year of The Dog, and Please Give, describes his experience working with her for the first time: [The entire process] was very fluid and creative, and this sounds touchy feely, but Lynne kept all of our creative energies open. I feel like I did the best work Ive ever done, because of her.
Ms. Shelton, are you hiring?