Touchy Feely Is as Tedious as Waiting in a Dentist's Office

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Cinema Village

22 E. 12th St.
New York, NY 10003

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: East Village

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Touchy Feely
Directed by Lynn Shelton
Magnolia Pictures
Opens September 6, Cinema Village
Available on demand

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Just as tedious as waiting in a dentist's office for an hour and a half, Lynn Shelton's latest fumblingly cutesy outing ought to be her last. (Sadly it is not—she's already wrapped production on a dark comedy starring Keira Knightley and Sam Rockwell.) Using a script instead of semi-improvised dialogue, her vanilla leads float through Seattle, alternately succeeding and being punished by their ability to heal others. Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a masseuse about to move in with her rebound boyfriend until she inexplicably develops a severe phobia of touching skin; her brother Paul's (Josh Pais, a significantly less funny version of Ben Stiller's "uptight schlub") dental practice experiences a sudden turnaround after he fixes a patient's rare jaw disease, and other sufferers aggressively flock to him for help. Worse than the goofy premise, Shelton fails to enliven the incredibly talk-heavy (but subtext-free) inaction with any sort of visual flair. The moments where Abby suddenly realizes how "gross" skin is are painfully bad, layering "scary" music (quavering orchestration in a minor key) over extreme close-ups of backs and thighs. (They're also confusing—at first I thought she was afraid of getting old.) Ellen Page is completely wasted as Paul's daughter, not given any juicy one-liners nor enough screen time to elicit empathy for her not-so-deeply entrenched inertia. The low-stakes dullness on display here is yet more evidence of an independent film scene that's been overrun by producers who have no qualms about turning out low-budget versions of Hollywood rom-com dreck in the hopes of big returns on their investments. (Your Sister's Sister was made for $125,000 and grossed $1.6 million.) Avoiding garbage like this is civic duty.

 
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