There’s nothing intimate or erotically passionate in Adina Pintilie’s semi-autobiographical think piece Touch Me Not. Winner of this year’s prestigious Golden Bear, Adina’s directorial debut is an emotionally void picture which neither reaches its goals of commenting on physical interactions and the everlasting longing for relationships. Using a candid portrait of herself (Adina) as a meta-backdrop for the film’s lengthy two hour run time, the film visits a wide variety of surface-level characters, such as Christian and Tómas, two disabled physio-therapy patients with rare extreme body dysfunctions.
Adina uses these characters as means of exposition, using conversation circles and interviews, for the actors to detail their character’s inner motivations and struggles. This method of film-making can either make or break a film in terms of narrative relevance, and unfortunately, in Touch Me Not, this route of storytelling neither compliments nor aids the film in any regard. Making matters worse, as the film progresses, the erotic and graphic nature of the film’s intent slowly become apparent, turning the pre-established light-hearted physiological tone of the first two acts, into something deplorable and nasty for the viewer to watch. Although some may argue that the third act’s abrasive transformation into the explicit is thematically relevant to the film’s thesis on physical interaction, the subject matter to begin with is just so poorly developed and conceived, to the point that Adina’s direction feels aimless and pretentious. If you’re going to torture your audience with explicit material, please do it with class.
Within it’s garbled half baked ideas, Touch Me Not isn’t a total disaster. Filled with beautiful portrait like cinematography, interchanging perspective and shadow composition as means to bring life into an already mundane world, George Chiper’s usage of lenses and color psychology compliments the film’s messages on body and soul in an beautiful light. The sound design also improves on the film, by using irritating reverbs and echo’s as means to disturb and off put the viewer.
It’s disappointing that a film such as Touch Me Not won the Golden Bear this year, when there were plenty of other films in competition, such as Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, Alonso Ruizpalacios’s Museo, and Christian Petzold’s Transit, which were far more deserving of the award. Touch Me Not may be one of the most alarming and pretentiously dull film’s of the 21st century. It falter’s in having a voice, and most importantly, fails in getting the audience’s attention and emotional investment.
Kino Lorber Has Planned A 2019 Release for Touch Me Not. Dates TBA