‘Touch’ tells the story of Fei Fei, a western woman living in China who starts an affair with a man without considering its possibly dangerous consequences.
Directed by: Aleksandra Szczepanowska.
Starring: Aleksandra Szczepanowska, Yang Jun, Yuan Jiangwei, Beckhan, Liu Yuqiao, Liu Yahui, Tang Tao, He Danqiao, Liao Zihan, Li Changhong, Kong Defeng.
Country: United States.
Genre: Romance, thriller.
Running time: 97 minutes.
Touch begins like any other romantic film about an affair that goes awry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s a film whose creator at first doesn’t intend to highlight among others in its subgenre. And if you identify this, and have a problem with formula based introductions, I would implore you to have patience. Touch evolves fastly. It touches ground and then launches an spiral of moral questions that are interesting due to a great character that never loses strength. Give it a shot. You will be surprised.
This is an extremely rare kind of film. It was created in China by a western woman called Aleksandra Szczepanowska, and she held creative control with an admirable force and conviction. I would dare to say it’s the first of its kind. Her achievement may linger in the indie platform and universe, but it must be celebrated.
However, her product is not only admissible because of the circumstances it was shot in. It’s a damn good indie film that turns the wheel, and presents a small thriller that’s entirely functional.
The unrecognized struggle of a woman who became someone else out of love
Fei Fei is a white western woman who’s been in China for some time. She’s seeking a permanent residence but it’s harder than it sounds. Obstacles appear in every instance. It doesn’t even matter if she’s so accustomed to Chinese traditions, it is simply a difficult process. When her son asks her where she got her name, she only says his father chose it for her.
However, in the household love has faded away. Fei Fei’s husband ignores her completely. The dynamics of the struggling couple are greatly portrayed by scenes of interaction. Her attempt at presence is very, very heavy. She doesn’t seem to be an important element in her own home.
One day Fei Fei signs up for a massage after a brief and strange encounter in a park. In the first session she becomes enthralled by Bai Yu, her blind masseur. The relationship becomes very intense, up to the point of a dark obsession. Their relationship is heavy with substance. Their bond is misterious, and even when they’re alone, they feel like they must hid from whatever’s outside of their own bubble of passion, lust and expectation
Creating a credible sin
If modern film can be sexy, this is a great example. Touch is a dramatic thriller with typical twists and turns that complies with every rule in the genre. What I found almost hypnotizing is its second act, the development of the affair.
In the film’s most beautiful scene, Fei Fei and Bai Yu have an intimate encounter. The camera is seldom fixed in a frame when they’re speaking to each other. its focus goes towards natural reaction and nervous movements. We feel both of them falling for each other in this random, aggressive fall into a dark fate. However, it’s inevitable. She plays with the mystery by smiling at the very chance of Bai Yu being a villain. His only reply is to help her with a enigmatic therapy. She stares blankly with excitement and lust pouring out of herself. This is the moment when she intends to become the healer for Bai Yu’s blindness. He sees through her heavyset touch. He refuses and makes her lie for a massage.
It’s a moment that ends up being more arousing than sex.
Szczepanowska doesn’t even go for steamy sex scenes. She identifies something much functional in their relationship. The moment before. The moment after. The importance of smell with Bai Yu’s condition. Her absolute surrender to something exciting and dangerous.
A twist and a change of plans
The film’s closure is an extended change of plans. No longer the affair is an innocent struggle. It actually becomes a dangerous consequence. Fei Fei and her husband try to rebuild their relationship while Fei Fei suffers from paranoia due to a secret. When her husband finally admits to his own, personal sin, they come together in a mature decision to escape their stumble.
As it is expected, there’s a last draw and it represents a wicked sense of justice for the film’s moral rainbow. It’s sad, sorrowful, and very dark considering Fei Fei’s fate.
The effect of a well built thriller
Good, compelling characters are essential for thrillers. In Touch there are plenty, and Szczepanowska guarantees a distinct approach for extreme decisions that at first felt random and almost naive. Nevertheless, there’s a price to pay and Touch includes an ending worthy of consideration. Imagine a sin so sharp, you would always have to live with it.
– The film only appears to be following a formula. But then, it suddenly turns into an interesting variant of the subgenre it portrays.
– The honest rendition of a passion riddled affair works. It’s a very, very sensual film.
– Aleksandra Szczepanowska is a master in her craft. Her work as a director, writer and the main character in the film is quite noteworthy. I know I would like to see her next film.
.- Some decisions in the married couple seem kind of off.
.- The immigration subplot ends up being of little importance.