Touchy Feely (Blu-ray)
Magnolia Home Entertainment / 2013 / 89 mins / R
If there were ever a case that some indie comedies pander, I present Touchy Feely as exhibit A. At first glance, I can sort of see what the director was going for based on the cinematography. The close-ups on the skin and its texture suggest that the story was trying to talk about being uncomfortable in your own life. Either that or the director had a failed skin documentary and didn't want to waste the footage. Whatever the reason for the visual theme, the story around it should've gone through another draft.
Three members of a new age, hipster family struggle to find happiness. Abby is a massage therapist struggling to come to terms with her age. Abby's brother, Paul, is a dentist who feels alienated from everyone including his family. Paul's daughter, Jenny, works with him at the office and hates to see him suffer. They're all quirky characters that could potentially work for a dramedy. Of course, in order for that to work, there needs to be a story.
This isn't so much a story as it is an excuse to throw some characters into some moody situations. Paul has an awkward therapy session and Abby ends up taking ecstasy. These characters don't really have arcs in that there is far too much exposition and very little development. This movie has a bad case of ADD as it cannot focus or build on anything. Maybe it doesn't want to actually tell a story and just display the realism of how awkward individuals live. Or maybe it was just a poorly written and edited piece of cinema.
Please, to all the independent directors out there, so down and conceive an actual script before you go buzzing off into production. I know that it's fun to rush right into filming scenes of awkwardness, free-spiritedness and indie music. But what good is any of that if you don't have structure to back it up. All you have left is atmosphere and that's not much to go on. Please, do not skate by on the fact that you insert new age healing, tofu and drugs to seem cool.
For that reason, Touchy Feely is one of the most irritating independent films I've ever seen. It has all the right ingredients, but somehow thinks it can make real art by just throwing in only the good part in no order or length. There are real characters here, but they're not given enough depth. There is real cinematography here, but it's wasted on shots that mean so little. It could've been a decent film, but everything about this movie is just a mess of half-thought ideas and sloppy structure. And at 89 minutes, the lightness of the story really shows.
Though the film was shot digitally which does limit some of the quality, the 1080p transfer does its best to deliver a sharp picture. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio is a stellar mix of sound design with the dialogue and music.
The Blu-ray comes packed with plenty of extras for a release such as this.
There is a commentary track by writer/director Lynn Shelton in which she explains her rather odd methods for editing the film.
A round of interviews with the cast and crew reveal a few more bits about the story. Outtakes and deleted scenes provide some more content and expose a little more of Shelton's production process.
Rounding out the disc is a promo and a trailer.
Touchy Feely is the worst of indie dramedies in that it's all the usual hipster fluff with no structure or story. The only way I can recommend this film is if you just want to watch a bunch of capable actors amble around in a film with no idea of where to go.