In TOUCH ME NOT, this year’s winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, blur the boundaries between fiction and reality. In the end, there is mainly perplexity that doesn’t feel good. We reveal more about this in our review.
That’s what it’s about
On the border between reality and fiction, “Touch Me Not” follows the emotional journey of Laura, Tómas and Christian, who want to explore their intimacy and sexuality. How can we strike a balance between desire and the fear of losing control? With alternating clinically cool, erotic and tender images, director Adina Pintilie takes us on an intimate expedition in which the barriers between men and women, “normal” and “different” are dissolved: a fundamental cinematic experience that nobody leaves untouched.
Movie explanation of the ending
Following the world premiere of Adina Pintilie’s “Touch Me Not” at this year’s Berlinale, the production, which very openly dealt with sexual taboos, was a topic of conversation. On the one hand, because the Romanian director and author does not draw an obvious line between documentation and fictionality in her work and, as a viewer, you are constantly asking yourself how to evaluate what is being shown. And on the other hand, because it is still uncomfortable for many to talk about the topics negotiated in “Touch me not”. It is about physical love in all its forms, but above all about the people who, with their flaws, anomalies and lifestyles, to decide with all those who have a very clear idea of what sexuality “may” and what not. Anyone who is reasonably open to the idea (which of course should be a matter of course) faces that human nature is as varied as the craving for physical closeness, so there will be nothing to be reprehensible in “Touch me not”. And nothing is reprehensible (and thus scandalous in any way) on Pintilie’s work, which, incidentally, won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale; On the contrary: the director appeals to overcome false shame boundaries and the classic picture of the fact that only men and women can be intimate with each other in front of the camera without giving away a piquant. This intention is noticeable at any time. But Adina Pinttilie makes a serious mistake in her work: she leaves her different protagonists completely alone, which on the one hand has the advantage that her nature can develop completely detached from directing instructions. But of all things, she completely reduces her to her physicality. What we can see on the screen is therefore a show position in the classic word of the word.
During a couple’s therapy exercise, his counterpart touches the paralyzed Christian Bayerlein from head to toe and is then asked to describe his impressions.
Something very important should be anticipated in the following lines: Precisely because “Touch Me Not” has a very sensitive basic idea at its core, the main thing here should be about how the film works. Because the fact that he gave us the impression of a modern freak show does not mean that the protagonists that have long been approved by the work long have felt. The fact that they feel comfortable in front of the camera and present themselves with the public with self -confidence is an aspect that makes a film with remarkable expressiveness on “Touch me not”. In the end you leave the cinema a little with the idea that everyone may finally recognize that everything that society claims is “deviating from the norm”, but from now on, please take as a matter of course in films as here. Because it is not just the main characters in focus radiate this self -image, but also the director, who at some point herself goes to the camera for her film. Andina Pinttilie is literally fond of her characters. For example in Laura (Laura Benson), who is afraid of touch with her fifty years. To the trans -wife Hanna (Hanna Hofmann), who only started to stand by himself and her gender in old age. And in Christian (Christian Bayerlein), who, despite his almost completely paralyzed body (he suffers from spinal muscular atrophy), does not want to give up an active sex life.
Based on these three examples, however, the problem can also be described quite well, which the viewer causes more discomfort than it would be appropriate during the vision. All characters in “Touch me not” have remarkable life paths. Each of them would fees their own film, which deals in detail with what makes them so interesting away from their bodies and their sexuality. But Andina Pinttilie is not interested in all of this. You only find out that this Christian Bayerlein is a renowned computer scientist, for example, when you still start researching a little after the film yourself. On the one hand, it is part of the concept of the film that the filmmaker exposes her protagonists – in the truest sense of the word. He is about physicality. On the other hand, it always lets her run into the open knife again and again. They all talk about their (sexual) sensations, their deepest longings and fears. The director often just lets the camera stand still and speak the monologue for himself. She never intervenes; As if she knew exactly that the protagonists are responsible for their statements themselves (that’s how it is ultimately). Of course, this creates an immense authenticity on one side; In the end, the viewer knows everything about each of them. On the other hand, certain statements also fuel clichéd associations, from which the director actually wants to move away with her “touch me not”. In doing so, she counteracts the initial situation of the film and her film becomes a kind of pipe shaft test that makes you think more about yourself than about the message of the film.
Hanna Hofmann tells Laura about her experiences as a trans woman.
So some in “Touch me not” will see exactly what we praised in the second paragraph – and wonder where the controversy came from. Due to the completely free handling of the characters, everyone else has the opportunity to perceive the whole film as a freak show. If Hanna, Christian and Laura are not people with character and background story, only the external remains; And by emphasizing Andina Pintilie this so vehemently, it turns out that it is anything but a matter of course for them, but especially that “such people” present themselves naked to the public. In addition, intimate scenes like the one in which Hannah talks about how she satisfies herself as a woman born in a man born in the body of a man himself, with a lack of intelligence, to laugh at her instead of being seriously dealing with them to want. But ultimately, everyone who wants finds a reason to express themselves about their fellow human beings (sometimes a Rolex on the wrist is enough). So at the end we look at what “Touch me not” makes so special; Namely, that you never really know during the 123 minutes what is actually real and what is actually done here. The film follows an artificial dramaturgy, but the characters in the film all act under their real name and mainly give interviews, while they can only be seen in everyday situations every now and then. However, how constructed they are never seems through. It is a game with the visual habits that Andina Pintilie takes here. And at least as that was “touch me not”.
Conclusion: “Touch me not” is a cinematic experiment that succeeds on the one hand: the director Andina Pinttilie brings documentation and fictionality very skillfully. Unfortunately, she takes the actual message of her film to the point of absurdity and turns it into a freak show, even though she actually wants to achieve exactly the opposite.
“Touch me not” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from November 1st.