When Pintilie’s offbeat exploration of sexuality was announced as the winner of this year’s Berlinale Golden Bear, reactions ranged from gentle bemusement to dripping contempt. Certainly, this earnest docudrama, which centres around a middle-aged woman named Laura (an excellent Laura Benson) with a crippling aversion to physical touch, is an acquired taste – it’s frustratingly difficult to separate the fictional elements from the factual, while an unwaveringly clinical tone makes for an uncomfortable viewing experience. But Benson is utterly convincing as a woman trapped by conflicting desires and fears – a sequence in which she hires an escort to masturbate in front of her is by turns awkwardly humorous and achingly poignant. And Pintilie refuses to portray her trans and disabled supporting characters as victims, instead offering them space to assert and celebrate their own identities.
Touch Me Not | Directed by Adina Pintilie (Romania, Germany, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France 2018) with Laura Benson and Tómas Lemarquis. Starts November 1.
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