Writer/Director Lynn Shelton‘s TOUCHY FEELY (2013) is one of those extremely personable films where the characters are flawed, and the path towards redemption may not always be as easy as they think. The key here is that the actors who play those flawed characters are perfect, and the depth of their performances reveal this. We see them for what they truly are–human. There are a lot of things at stake in Touchy Feely, however, the movie focus is not about their businesses, and relationships diminishing–it is about the people who are forced to deal with it.
Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist who is in a long-term relationship with Jesse (Scott McNairy) a bike shop owner. Abby has a brother, Paul (Josh Pais) a widowed dentist with avoidant social issues. His dental practice is failing, and his daughter and dental assistant Jenny (Ellen Page) is putting her dreams on hold and avoiding making decisions about her future because she is more concerned about her dad and a small, fleeting emotional interest in Abby’s boyfriend, Jesse.
One night at dinner Jesse asks Abby to move in with him, and it is not initially obvious that Abby is not ready for this commitment in her relationship. Instead, the reality of this commitment come in the form of Abby developing an aversion to touching people and not a good thing for someone who makes their living “reaching people.” Distraught, she seeks help from her friend Bronwyn (Allison Janney) who practices Reiki–a form of spiritual healing. When this does not work, she ventures into a self-reflective period–and runs into an old boyfriend (Ron Livingston).
At the same time, the overly tense dentist, Paul seek help from Abby’s spiritual friend Bronwyn and it seems that her “healing touch” works on Paul. He suddenly develops the ability to “heal” his patients suffering from TMJ. However, his miracle touch is short lived. There is not much to tell about Page’s character “Jenny” except for her, like the other characters in the film, are going through their methods for self-discovery, and although described as a “self-improved” comedy–the “funny parts” are delightful enough not to take away from the poignant and humanistic value of the story.
It is not a comedy per se. It has its funny bits. However, Touchy Feely does offer viewers brilliant performances and actually relatable and exciting characters.
Art and supplementary materials courtesy ©2013 of Magnolia Pictures. All rights reserved.