In November, Touch Me Not kicked off the Romanian Film Initiative, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Jacob Burns Film Center event, Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema. This is the debut film from Romanian director, Adina Pintilie. Touch Me Not is a jarringly beautiful film that examines the human body and the idea of intimacy, while also showcasing the connection between the subjects as well as Pintilie herself.
I would like to begin by pointing out that this film, while shown as unrated, was only open to mature audiences during Making Waves. Pintilie does not shy away from showing the naked human body and at some point in the film each of her subjects, as well as people in connection to them, are shown in at least some form of undress. This nudity though does not always equate to true intimacy. What is interesting is that through Laura the ability to related to other people physically is tremendously jarring. She is not uncomfortable seeing other people being naked and appears naked herself at different points within Touch Me Not, but she struggles with letting people close to her. We see her watch someone identified as a call boy masturbate in front of her, but she never physically touches him. We then later see her with a woman, whose profession is never entirely explained, who performs a peep show for her. She then later undresses and talks with Laura about her body. Nudity though is not what triggers her, we also see her with a man who tests her ability to accept the touch of others. Over the course of the film she pushes herself to try and connect physically with those around her.
We are also introduced to Christian and Tómas, who are both taking part in a physical exercise that involves touching and connecting with another person. The two men must discuss what it was like touching the face of the other person. Beyond that they also have discussions later about sex and both attend what appears to be a dungeon. Christian refers to himself as differently-abled and discusses his own relationship to his body as well as to his wife and other people. Tómas as a young man lost all of his hair and discusses the walls he has built up since that time. The discussions and examinations of human intimacy and the connections that we have to both our bodies and to the bodies of others is fascinating. It is necessary to point out that Touch Me Not does blend fiction with non-fiction elements creating a story that is remarkably complex. Not only does Pintilie speak with her subjects, but she also speaks directly to her audience and uses varying camera angles and presentations to make the viewer feel as though they are part of the experiences and conversations they are being shown.
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