How crazy would it be if you were a massage therapist and you are suddenly repulsed by the idea of touching the skin of your clients? That’s the exact problem Rosemarie DeWitt’s character Abby faces in director Lynn Shelton’s latest indie flick Touchy Feely. Press Pass LA had the opportunity to view an exclusive screening of the highly anticipated film which made its Sundance debut at the start of the year.
Touchy Feely tells the story of Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Paul (Josh Pais), siblings who are both going through personal journeys. Abby is a spiritual and beloved massage therapist who one day becomes repulsed by the thought of contact with anyone’s bare skin. Paul is an uptight dentist who is struggling to raise a teenage daughter, Jenny (Ellen Page), while the memory of his wife’s death still lingers within him. With her apartment lease soon to be over, Abby decides to move in with her cyclist boyfriend Jesse (Scoot McNairy). Abby also advises that gloomy Paul visit her practitioner friend Bronwyn (Played by Allison Janney) to ease his tress. A skeptical Paul decides to visit Bronwyn, and begins to notice a spiritual awakening within himself. Just as Paul begins to enjoy life a little more, Abby finds herself unable to stomach any contact with anyone else’s skin.
Coincidentally Paul suddenly finds himself able to heal pain in his dental patients through simple touch.The first person he heals is Henry (Tomo Nakayama), a local musician and friend of Ellen’s character (whose light is consistently dimmed by her fathers expectations). The news of Henry’s healing begins to spread like wildfire, creating more and more new business for Pauls once deserted company. Paul doesn’t believe that there’s anything he’s doing to help these people, yet the miracles continue. Meanwhile, Abby tries to figure out how to work through her new-found phobia, and realizes that moving in with boyfriend Jesse might not be the best idea. After declining his invitation to live together, Jessie is left confused and helpless by the sudden change in Abby.
The film seems to reach an emotional plateau once Paul nears the end of his spiritual journey and Abby rejects her boyfriend. Jenny (Ellen Page) is an honest and likeable character who seemed to be out of place throughout the film. However she starts to realize there is more to life than her fathers dentist business, and that she must achieve her own goals. Rosemarie’s character is seemingly forgotten about in the latter of the film, with random storylines placed upon her (she takes ecstasy to forget her issues). Abby is never given time to discover the reasoning behind her sudden repulsion, as well as develop and resolve the relationship issues between she and boyfriend Jesse. Josh Pais character is the standout within the film, due to the emotional development and ample screen time he is given within the film.
Overall the film contains a solid moral message regarding human energy and the spiritual balance that can lead to a peaceful and fulfilled life.There are a few laugh worthy moments throughout the film, which are the result of the quirky yet natural delivery from the cast. If you like character driven indie films, be sure to check this one out and establish your thoughts and opinion!
Touchy Feely is set to be released on VOD on August 1st, with its theatrical US release date September 6th!
Watch the trailer for Touchy Feely here.