Film writer Andy Spletzer reports from the Sundance Film Festival.
Seattle was in the house for the world premiere of Lynn Shelton's made-in-Seattle Touchy Feely. I have been embedded with the crew in town, and we filled our allotment of reserved seats at the Eccles, Sundance's largest venue, whose 1270 seats were packed full, with many people turned away.
After Lynn gave a charming intro speech, the film played. Touchy Feely is a personal, poetic, sometimes sad and sometimes funny story of a massage therapist (Rosemarie DeWitt) whose fear of intimacy is triggered when her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy) asks her to move in with her. The fear manifests itself through an aversion to touching skin, which causes her to shut down her practice temporarily. Meanwhile her brother (Josh Pais) has intimicy issues of his own. His dental practice is dying because he is stuck in his ways, despite what his daughter (Ellen Page) tries to do to help. Giving advice to both is Allison Janney, an herbalist who's full of good advice.
The movie flows with all the naturalism that Shelton is famous for, where every line feels both scripted and improvised at the same time. As Shelton's alter-ego, DeWitt brings a sad edge to her newfound aversion to touch. On the flipside, Pais pushes through the awkawrd uptight-ness of the brother into a realm that makes him fascinating and funny. I look forward to seeing him in more high-profile comedies after this gets out. As his daughter, Page can break your heart with a look as she deals with her own crushes and issues. Touchy Feely is a wonderful film, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again in Seattle.
After the movie came the Touchy Feely party, which was a blast....
Cast and crew reunited and took pictures all night long in the photo booth. Tomo Nakayama from the band Grand Hallway kicked off the music with the song "Horses," which was featured in the film (he plays the first dental patient cured by Pais), and it's as lovely live as it is in the movie.
The party filled up, and soon enough partygoers were rubbing shoulders with the likes of Michael Cera and Josh Radnor. I did overhear that some more connected folks were leaving to go to a super secret James Franco party. "Go to this location by 1:00am, then if you're on the list you will be shuttled to the party." I, however, stuck with the crew until the party shut down.
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