Touch Me Not is a docudrama whose principal theme is (sexual) intimacy, how it can
be attained and maintained, and how often it ultimately eludes us. By tracing
the lives of several key personae, including that of Putilie herself, the film
aims to offer insight into each of its protagonists’ emotional difficulties.
The film pivots around
Laura (Laura Benson), a British woman crippled with anger and repressed sexual
trauma related to her father. She is dominated by voyeuristic tendencies, and,
in stark contrast to the nameless exhibitionist who she invites to her flat in
the crude first scene, she is
awkward and painfully self-aware. Sadly, not one of these issues is explored in
any thought-provoking way.
Rather, Laura’s preoccupations with
self-liberation are deeply rooted in her fascination with disability as well as
her interest in other ‘non-conventional’ life experiences. She invites transsexual sex
worker and therapist Hanna (Hanna Hoffman) to help her – Hanna does so through
an unsettling combination of conversation, strip-tease and Brahms – alongside
sex worker Seani Love, who physically punches Laura to elicit a reaction. These
gratuitous attempts to break down Laura’s barriers only serve to create more walls
between the film and the viewer.
Throughout these prolonged
interview-cum-therapy scenes that supposedly aim to blur fiction and reality, but fall flat in
their attempt to do so, Pintilie intersperses the stories of Christian
(Christian Bayerlein) and Tudor (Tómas Lemarquis).
Both suffer from different
physical deformities: Christian has spinal muscular atrophy, while alopecia has
left Tudor completely hairless. The two are partners in a yoga workshop, where
a poignant scene has Tudor explore Christian’s face with his hands, as, once again, Laura
The closeness between the
pair thus becomes a voyeuristic ritual, in which the ability of those bearing
disabilities to feel intimacy is fetishised before the viewer. This
fetishisation is only exemplified when Tudor witnesses Christian with his
partner Grit in a sex club; little is left to the viewer’s
imagination, recalling Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac.
Dragging sections of
tedious dialogue aside, what makes Touch Me Not so problematic is its central message: even
this man who can barely control his body is able to be intimate with another;
even a transsexual is comfortable in her skin; even the pursuers of
violent BDSM can find pleasure with others – so why can’t a run-of-the-mill woman such as
Touch Me Not’s success at the Berlinale 2018 is a result that surely undermines the prestigious nature of this accolade.
This film was reviewed at the Berlinale 2018. Official UK release dates have not yet been announced.
|What||Touch Me Not film review|
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|