While many Australian films have candidly framed social issues for all the world to see, few are likely to pack as much of a punch as Touch, writes Josh Sampson.
While many Australian contributions have candidly framed social issues for all the world to see, few are likely to pack as much of a punch and capture the imaginations of film lovers than the latest entry, Touch.
Touch is an edgy, heart-in-your-mouth thriller that chronicles the ultimate game of hide and seek meets cat and mouse. The opening scene features main character Dawn (Leeanna Walsman) who appears to be taking a harmless road trip with daughter Steph (Onor Nottle), meandering their way through the countryside.
After stopping for a rest break, Dawn approaches a building being supervised by an older man (John Crouch), where a banal discussion takes place about style of decor, the possibility of an extended rest break and beverages of choice.
As the older man turns his back and repeatedly asks Dawn if she would like a cup of tea, Dawn undertakes a frenzied attack on the man, bludgeoning him with a roll of masking tape. To those extending the hand of hospitality, a note to self for the future.
It is at this point that we quickly realise the depravity of Dawn is likely to know no bounds. In the midst of an unyielding credit card spending spree and a failed attempt at lifting some jewellery, Dawn is attracted by the advances of a local bent cop (Greg Hatton) in a seedy bar, resulting in a series of brief but unpleasant sexual encounters.
Meanwhile, Steph is having to retreat to the boot of the car during Dawn’s “moonlighting”, a technique Director Christopher Houghton executes brilliantly in outlining both the relative innocence of and dark secrets behind this real-life game. These dark secrets are further thrust in front of the audience when investigator (Matt Day) tracks down the pair and confronts Dawn about the one thing she does not want to face, the loss of your own child.
Themes of love, as ugly as some of them are, dark humour, loss and trauma are at the forefront of the film and the combination of slow burn and fast pace are for the most part blended well, encouraging the audience to get in to the passenger’s seat and come along for the ride.
One criticism of the film however is its conclusion, ending abruptly with the prevailing theme of hide and seek, only to fade out to the closing credits. The chaos and immediacy of the sequence of events has you on the edge of your seat and one wonders whether a final theme of closure would have been the ticket to tie up any loose ends and doubts in the minds of the audience.
Touch has already premiered at the Sydney Film Festival and screened at the Byron Bay International Film Festival. With an upcoming festival run on the horizon at the Cannes Antipodean Festival and St Tropez Film Festival in France, it is over to some of the toughest critics in the world to judge this ambitious, brutally honest and captivating production.