It’s late. I’m tired, but wired. Because I’ve just arrived back from watching the film ‘Touch Me Not’, showing in the IFI, Dublin. Now in bed with my laptop, cup of tea and bag of chips, because I can’t sleep.
In my heightened state I feel compelled to write something about this landmark film. The winner of the grand prize at the Berlin International Film Festival 2018. Since then it’s been shown to enthusiastic audiences in many venues across Europe and the UK. And will be available to watch online soon (details below).
So what is the massive appeal of this film by Romanian director Adina Pintilie? On one level the film explores blocks to intimacy. Wounds, beliefs and patterns of behaviour as experienced by 3 diverse characters. Yet it’s also a door through which to enter a world that every person with a pulse can resonate with. The film conveys in a powerful way how the exploration of one’s sexuality and opening to intimacy is a soul calling. A calling from the deepest part of ourselves.
How many men and women reach a point in their lives where they know they’ve missed out on something? Missed out on a deep connection with their own sexuality? With intimacy? For whatever reason. And decide to live a half life no longer but to take that leap into the unknown to connect with it?
Laura, at the age of 50, is the embodiment of the courage required to cross the chasm from fear to love. From isolation to intimacy. And from living divorced from one’s body to having a profound connection with it.
During the various encounters she sets up for her exploration she meets with Seani Love. He holds a safe space for her in which all her emotions are welcome. She comes to realise there can be no true healing or moving forward without owning her yes and her no. Without knowing the difference between both. How without being able to say no she can never truly say yes.
Seani encourages her to begin to express the volcano of emotion held in her being. And to release the anger imprisoning her from within.
Following Laura’s journey in the film was in some eerie way like watching an old part of myself. I saw my own reflection in her determination to break through whatever kept her in fear of her wholeness.
It brought me back to my own days of intense exploration which began over 20 years ago. And reminded me of the courage it required to take that leap of faith. To Trust. Love. Play. Experiment. Go deep down the rabbit hole, into my own wonderland.
Courage is essential for reclaiming or owning your relationship with your own sexuality. Expansion isn’t found within your comfort zone but on the edge of it. Laura, Tomas and Christian embody this courage.
This film demonstrates how courage is essential to freedom. Love. Intimacy. We all know that at our core, even if or when we pretend to forget. Part of this film’s huge appeal is that it reminds us of that. Reminds us of what it’s all too easy to forget.
The casting was exquisite. The realness and rawness of Laura’s journey was all the more powerful because she was real. A mature woman intent on experiencing her wholeness. Which by definition as we’re all sexual beings has to include our sexuality. On some level we instinctively know this. Is it this undeniable realisation that has led so many to resonate with this film?
We’ve all seen those lists of top 10 things that people regret when they’re older. Taking risks tends to rank high. If it wasn’t so politically incorrect to do so, how many would tell the truth? Would say they regretted not exploring their sexuality more?
Regretted not taking the risk to play their own edge? To uncover those parts of themselves they fought with and buried? In a life-denying attempt to conform to an external agenda? Regretted not taking the risk to know and be known by another, all the way through?
Christian was born with a severe disability, spinal muscular atrophy. He describes himself as differently-abled. “The body is a gift, and life is a journey to experience that gift.” He spoke of moments of wonder in his experience of sex with his wife. Their profound connection and deep love for one another was palpable. A joy to behold.
The 3rd main character, Tomas shares his epiphany. That the wall he erected wasn’t for his own protection, to keep others out. But to keep him from the full expression of his own emotion. Which he learns to share.
The core wound in our culture is the split between sex and soul. This film ends with a beautiful, tender portrayal of connection. A powerful celebration of the sheer joy of life. Which is ours to experience when we heal this split as individuals or as a collective.
The only minus point in this entire film for me was the strobe lighting in some of the club scenes. Flashing lighting so intense to the point where I had to close my eyes, which was the last thing I wanted to do! The continuity was less than impeccable. Yet neither of these minor issues detracted much from the film. One that I’m already looking forward to watching again.
Touch Me Not is absorbing. Like the sort of book you return to again and again. And discover something new in it on each encounter.
Available online from from Friday 26th October at https://touchmenot.mubi.com/ This film is raw. Edgy. It’s not for the faint-hearted or the close-minded.
But highly recommended for those who know there’s more. Who’ve spent their lives trying to fit into the cultural narrative. And find it’s not working for them. It’s for those who want encouragement that they’ll survive the journey to their deep self. Who want to know that others have gone before them. That they’re not alone. It’s for those who want to trust that sowing into their own field will reap a rich harvest.
This is for anybody who’s taken their courage into their hands to connect, to love. Because in this iconic film you may catch a mirror image glimpse of yourself. Be struck numb with awe and gratitude for yourself and your journey. And for all those who had the courage to walk some of the way with you.
As I am tonight.