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TOUCH

SYNOPSIS: Dawn (Leeanna Walsman) and her daughter Steph (Onor Nottle) are on the run in rural South Australia. A mysterious man, John (Matt Day) is in pursuit. Along the way, Dawn encounters a country cop (Greg Hatton) without morals and a motel owner (Shane Connor) with voyeuristic tendencies.

Review by Louise Keller:
Blame, guilt and letting go are the themes of this moody drama about fractured lives. Christopher Houghton's debut feature plays like a jigsaw puzzle - nothing makes sense until all the pieces have been placed together. Fragmented imagery, sharp editing and a haunting soundscape all contribute to the tension, exacerbated by the fact that we are left in the dark about key elements concerning the characters and plot. It's an intriguing film with that sucks us in, along with a host of emotions driven by fear, anger and sorrow.

The film begins with images of the landscape rushing by the car window, a dreamcatcher firmly in view as it dangles from the rear vision mirror of the car Dawn (Leeanna Walsman) is driving. Her young daughter Steph (Onor Nottle) hides in the back seat. She loves to play hide and seek but it is her mother who is afraid of the dark. There's a violent altercation with an unknown man; a road trip; grim-faced Matt Day (as John) in pursuit. 'Home is you and me now,' Dawn tells Steph, in answer to her young daughter wanting to go home.

We are on edge as an aggressive roadside cop (Greg Hatton) finds Dawn asleep in the car. Consensual rough sex follows some time later at a dingy motel where Carl (Shane Connor), the gruff manager keeps a beady eye on comings and goings with a hidden video camera. The unbecoming full frontal nudity accentuates the ugliness of the transaction and the desperation of the participants. There is more to come. Watch for the brief black and white shot of Steph as she gazes in a stream, her upside down reflection making a strong statement. It's only brief but highly evocative.

It is not until the final reel that the puzzle's picture starts to take shape. At last, we learn who is the man in hospital, the identity of the man following Dawn, why he is following her and from what she is running away. Walsman is a strong presence throughout as the angst-ridden Dawn whose internal pain we can almost feel. Day is effective as the enigmatic man following her, while Hatton is suitably offensive as the disturbed cop. As Steph, Onor Nottle is striking in her film debut. The crux of the film evolves around a mother's love for her child and he soulful soundtrack that permeates as the exposition comes to its final conclusion is affecting.

The South Australian landscape is beautifully portrayed with its undulating hills, cloudy skies and feeling of remoteness. The final piece of music played over the closing credits elevates our mood as it takes us into another realm. Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier's Into the Blue is plaintive, thoughtful and uplifting with its joyous harmonies by their three young daughters. The film played at the 2014 Sydney Film Festival.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TOUCH (MA15+)
(Aus, 2014)

CAST: Leeanna Walsman, Matt Day, Onor Nottle

PRODUCER: Julie Byrne

DIRECTOR: Christopher Houghton

SCRIPT: Christopher Houghtob

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Aaron Gully

EDITOR: David Banbury

MUSIC: Kyls Burtland

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Amy Baker

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: ScreenLaunch

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sunday May 17: The Regal Theatre, Adelaide (Q&A) 6.30pm; Mon May 18: Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction (Q&A) 6.30pm; Thursday May 21: Classic Cinema (Q&A), 7.00pm; Thursday May 21: TRAK Cinema; Saturday May 23: Cameo Cinema (Q&A), 7.00pm.







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