Dir/Wri: Claudia Rorarius | Cast: Stavros Zafeiris, Isold Halldórudóttir | German, Drama 135′
Imagine a life without love or physical closeness. That lot falls to a paraplegic man in this thoughtful drama from German filmmaker Claudia Rorarius. Essentially a two-hander Touched explores the importance of power and control in human relationships. And while Alex may be physically powerless, his strong personality more than makes up for it when lonely caregiver Maria arrives. The physically challenged patient soon realises he is playing with fire.
Dark and good-looking, Alex (Stavros Zafeiris) has previously enjoyed a varied love life, like any man of his age. But paralysis makes him understandably frustrated and desperate. And we really feel for him. Maria (Icelandic plus-size model Isold Halldórudóttir) is blond and blue-eyed but grossly obese. But after Alex tries to commit suicide in the rehabilitation centre’s exercise pool, she embarks on an illicit attachment to her patient which is deemed below the belt by medical standards, despite Alex’s positive response.
At first Alex appears to be the victim of circumstance, claiming he would never date Maria in real life. But he soon appears to wield the power in this ‘folie a deux’ (that involves graphic sex scenes). Maria is then threatened with the sack when she is discovered in Alex’s bed one morning, the two having spent the night together.
With extraordinary intuitive performances from Halldórudóttir and Zafeiris (which won them a Pardo Award in this year’s Concorso Cineasti del presente), and minimal dialogue, Touched gently unpacks this unconventional relationship in a spare, slow-burning and sensually rich character drama. One of the most provocative films in the year’s Cineasti del Presente line-up at Locarno Film Festival 2023.
LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL 2023