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Touch is an audacious SA film

May 21, 2015

In the opening few moments of Touch, the screen is saturated with pure white, which gradually flickers into a scene dominated by greys and soft blues.

Someone is waiting in a car on an icy morning. A middle-aged man parks and opens up a place of work. Next, the woman we saw waiting outside persuades the kindly man to let her – an apparent stranger babbling tragically about children – inside.

Suddenly, she assaults the man viciously and leaves him for dead.

Who is this woman? Why did she assault the man? Who is the younger man who soon appears at the victim’s bedside, promising to take care of things as long as the police are not involved?

Another fine production from the SA Film Corporation’s FilmLab, Touch is audacious. In his first feature, writer/director Christopher Houghton brazenly expects that viewers will happily deduce much about motive and character to fill in the gaps as the action unfolds in brief, mysterious scenes.

Touch-film

Touch is often unashamedly beautiful, with delicately constructed shots dwelling on imagery that may or may not indicate character or story exposition.

Thus we are treated to long, still takes of light refracting through water droplets; artful, almost surreal South Australian landscapes; actions viewed through opaque barriers; people lit and posed like Rembrandts. The sheer beauty displayed on screen is so distracting that it, too, challenges our suspension of disbelief.

Leeanna Walsman is utterly convincing as a confused person who places herself in peril yet makes nothing but poor decisions in her efforts to avoid more strife. Walsman’s face and body tell us much about her character’s raw, frightening predicament.

On the other hand, Matt Day, as her pursuer, struggles to convey more than his staccato lines. Luckily, his role is not so important as to spoil the film. The support cast – notably youngster Onor Nottle, and Greg Hatton as a country cop – is excellent.

If the ending feels like a slight letdown it is nonetheless clever and eventually led this reviewer to another interpretation of the story, leading me to think more about this wholly engrossing movie.

Touch is screening at Adelaide’s Trak Cinemas.

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