Film Review: TOUCH ME NOT (Romania/Germany/Czech Republic/Bulgaria/France 2019) ***

Touch Me Not Poster
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.


Adina Pintilie

TOUCH ME NOT, filmmaker Adina Pintilie’s Golden Bear–winning first feature is a brave and raw look at bodies, intimacy, and empathy, exploring the private lives and sexual desires of four people with an approach that blurs the line between fiction and documentary. Moving seamlessly between erotic clubs and closed-door reflections, TOUCH ME NOT is a self-assured journey into the intimate lives of Laura, Tómas, Christian, and Grit. 

Not an easy watch as well as opening windows into a world of those who dare to break with social conventions and access the hidden aspects of their sexuality, the film revels in a space where anyone — no matter the obstacle — has the possibility of touching their inner rebel. In what feels like galaxies beyond the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Touch Me Not invites one to start as a tabula rasa and TOUCH ME NOT opens this transcend all previously imagined limits. 

Within protective spaces that are entirely free of judgment, Adina Pintilie and her protagonists explore new perspectives on human relationships, and we, as viewers, are challenged to question our own self-knowledge and continue our journey of self-discovery beyond the cinema in our everyday lives.

In the middle of the film the one subject, Laura has a session with someone that could be described as a healer.  He talks about being in a good space and energy and such.  For those who like myself who do to believe in stuff like new age energy and healers, this section along with a whole lot more in the film will be difficult to take in.  Laura says: “I do not understand how I have come to reach at this point.  Or maybe I have forgotten.”  The healer then says:  I will touch you now.”  At this point in the film, myself and many others would have given up oaths mumbo-jumbo.  My background is engineering and science and it takes incredible patience and effort to each this film, which looks totally pretentious, unplanned and irrelevant.

On the positive side, the experiences of a few characters in the film resonate with raw emotions.  A man who has lost his blond hair when he was young relate the difficulty of undergoing the experience from being a cute boy to a weird one.  In one experiment, he touches a disabled male with his eyes closed.  This is a difficult scene to watch.  The disabled male gos on total about the pleasure of his sexual experience being born different.

Whether one likes or hates TOCUH ME NOT, one thing is for sure in that the film, which could be described as porn disguised as art opens ones eyes (to put it mildly) to the sensation of touch and sexuality.  But the film leads nowhere as to were all the studies or leading or whether anyone has gained from the examinations.

TOUCH ME NOT opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox with a Q&A session with its director Adina Pintilie on Friday August 23 at 830pm.