The Berlinale (or the Berlin International Film Festival, to give it its proper title) is one of the highlights of the European film calendar. It’s absolutely huge, boasting the biggest public attendance of any film festival in the world. Its crown jewel is the Golden Bear, and when it comes to the big prize the jury tend to be rather leftfield. Previous winners have included A Separation, Fire at Sea, Larks on a String and Caesar Must Die. This year, they chose possibly the most controversial winner yet with Touch Me Not.
Touch Me Not is a difficult film to describe. Director Adina Pintilie takes us on a personal self-journey/research project through her meetings with Laura (Laura Benson), Tómas (Tómas Lemarquis) and Christian (Christian Bayerlein). All three long for intimacy but are too scared to find it. Merging fact and fiction, she follows them on their own personal healing journeys and voyages of discovery.
Touch Me Not is a very strange film in many ways. What could have worked as a documentary or fictional drama feels at times like an exercise in pretension. There’s a powerful narrative around abuse bubbling below the surface but its effect is counteracted by seemingly pointless titillation in a S&M club. Touch Me Not is an odd film which will probably offer more to others than it did for me. There’s a fascinating social commentary about body-positivity, abuse and trauma in there somewhere, just waiting to get out.
Touch Me Not is a in cinemas from 19 October.