The relationship between Anna (Jacqueline McKenzie) and David (Aaron Blabey) is tested when the wealthy but iconoclastic gentleman, Edward (Chris Haywood) enters Anna's life. His worldliness and seductive charm awakens in Anna a consciousness that has a dramatic impact on her relationship with David. She embarks on an intimate journey of self-discovery and physical fulfilment to finally arrive at a deeper, more profound understanding of her inner needs ... and the necessity for human touch and need for love.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Music, art, sex, relationships, wealth.... motifs that haunt Paul Cox's films from different angles, with varying emphasis and unpredictable results. In Human Touch, Cox zooms in on sexuality in its broadest sense, and explores how sensuality can be a current or a currency. Anna (Jacqueline McKenzie) has gone off the boil in bed, and David (Aaron Blabey) is so frustrated he's ready to drug her into a deep sleep so he can do to her while she sleeps what he would prefer to do while she's awake and a willing participant. The trouble is, he stops short, much like Paul Cox does in his treatment of eroticism in the film. In David's case it's his decency and recognition that he'd be going too far; in Cox's case it's perhaps a reluctance to follow French film form.
He's too often coy about showing us what he's saying regarding sensuality, so we have too many scenes truncated before the eroticism can be played out in full. This robs the film of its one big source of power. We need to SEE the epiphany that unlocks Anna's libido; this is the major blockage in their relationship. This is the major theme of the film, that we need to touch each other to feel connected. We see this in abundance in a wonderful scene where Edward's dying mother clings to human flesh as if she were an addict. This is the sort of stuff we need more of in Human Touch.
But the performances, as usual for a Paul Cox film sporting some of his favourite actors, are terrific. Rebecca Frith is marvellous as Edward's complex wife, Terry Norris is superb as an artist with vision, frustrated by the entire world, and Simon McBurney is perfect as the ghastly Bernard. And these are just the supporting characters. McKenzie is riveting as Anna, with Aaron Blabey providing pent up emotional dynamics, and Chris Haywood mesmerising as the mystical man with money and taste - and a penchant for naked flesh.
Wish we could have had more of it. Naked flesh, that is.
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HUMAN TOUCH (M)
CAST: Jacqueline McKenzie, Aaron Blabey, Chris Haywood,[BREAK]Aden Young, Rebecca Frith, Terry Norris, Julia Blake
PRODUCER: Mark Patterson
DIRECTOR: Paul Cox
SCRIPT: Paul Cox
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ian Jones ACS
EDITOR: Simon Whitington
MUSIC: Paul Grabowski
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Asher Bilu
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 14, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
VIDEO RELEASE: March, 2006 (rental)