Sunday, December 23, 2007


Touch; Drama/ Satire, USA, 1997; D: Paul Schrader, S: Skeet Ulrich, Bridget Fonda, Christopher Walken, Tom Arnold, Gina Gershon, Breckin Meyer, Janeane Garofalo, Lolita Davidovich

Evangelist Bill Hill goes to calm down the difficult situation in the house of the blind Virginia who is getting beaten up by her husband. Suddenly, the young Juvenal enters the house, puts a cloth on her and she suddenly gains her sight back. Concluding it must be a miracle, Bill decides to talk to Juvenal whom he considers a miracle maker, but the church doesn't allow him that. That's why Bill persuades his friend Lynn to get drunk in order to land into the rehabilitation center where Juvenal works and talk to him. Juvenal heals her and tells her his real name is Charlie and that he worked 7 years as a priest in the Amazon rain forest where miraculous healing of sick people started. They fall in love, which is not welcomed by religious fanatic August who wants Juvenal to have a "clean" image. When August tries to kill Lynn, Juvenal intervenes and throws him from the floor, breaking his bones. But he heals him in a TV show and runs away with Lynn.

Writer Elmore Leonard wrote his novel "Touch" as a harsh critique of religious fanaticism, exploitation and oppression, but director Paul Schrader, most famous for his screenplay for "Taxi Driver" adapted it into a rather stiff film. The final result is a mild, tame and ephemera junction between serious drama and satire, but which still contains a few sharp observations and thought provocative contemplations of Christianity: the young, innocent Juvenal is obviously a symbol for the modern Christ who can heal the sick, but the church absurdly forbids him that and rather has him hide his miraculous gift in order to act as an average person, while some gags aren't especially subtle, but still bring the point across, like the scene where a priest has dysentery and has to go to the toilet in the middle of the mass or when the protagonist asks Lynn is she is a Catholic upon which she flat out replies: "No, but I was once married to one...". To push the envelope even further, Schrader has Juvenal and Lynn land in bed, openly going against the religious dogma that intercourse without a marriage is a sin. However, the story doesn't at all have that magic or emotions that were sensed from the subject, thus it seems the whole film is ended like a dry myth that looks at everything in black and white and offers no explanations, even though it has a neat point hidden in the chaotic ending.


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