A fair few films have used the narrative trick of blurring reality and fiction, but almost none of them have done it as confusingly and pointlessly as Touch Me Not. A perverse and neurotic study of intimacy, it’s a stodgy load of meta opaqueness that says nothing of interest and says that nothing in the most boring, repetitive way.
Cutting between reality and fiction, Touch Me Not mainly follows Laura (Laura Benson), a middle-aged woman on a quest to investigate sex and intimacy and her relationship with each. From the off, it’s obvious that director Adina Pintilie is making a lazy film – as a mix of documentary and drama, neither side has any care put into it. The embarrassingly awful acting and incoherent plotting in the drama is shunted aside by the documentary, which itself has no insight or interesting information to offer.
Pintilie conjures one fantastic image – a close-up of a naked torso, zoomed in so far that the human body takes on the form of an abstract landscape – but the style is generally as frustratingly shoddy as the “substance”. Horrible lighting makes every shot look like a cheap music video at best or a commercial shot in a burger chain at worst; the editing is shambolic; and the soundtrack consists of exactly two hilariously incongruous songs.
Pintilie returns over and over again to the same shots and the same conversations and, for all its other failings, it’s this utter disregard towards being engaging that is the film’s most fatal flaw.
Touch Me Not does not feel like a film by a professional. It’s ugly and overlong and humourless, making the sorts of mistakes that you’d expect from a first-year film student. That it won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival is a bizarre travesty.
CAST: Laura Benson, Tómas Lemarquis, Christian Bayerlein
DIRECTOR: Adina Pintilie
WRITERS: Adina Pintilie
SYNOPSIS: Together, a filmmaker and her characters venture into a personal research project about intimacy. On the fluid border between reality and fiction, Touch Me Not follows the emotional journeys of Laura, Tómas and Christian, offering a deeply empathic insight into their lives.