'Touchy Feely' Virtual Screening

Every day
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A frequent criticism of mumblecore films is that nothing really happens in them, which has always struck me as a weak line of reasoning. Life doesn't have a plot (spoiler!), and it's still pretty interesting most of the time. But Lynn Shelton's new film, Touchy Feely, tweaks the formula a bit: Nothing really happens, except for a few things that are really goddamn weird. Paul (Josh Pais) and his daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) are a morose family unit living in Seattle—just a quiet dentist and his quiet kid who quietly work together at Paul's dental practice. Wacky, free-spirited aunt Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist who believes in elixirs and energy work. Her outlook stands in clear contrast to that of her science-minded brother, who spends his days diligently scrubbing the teeth of his elderly patients. Meanwhile, shy Jenny is in love with her aunt's boyfriend, a grubby bike-messenger type (Scoot McNairy, who's perfectly cast as the kind of guy who's irresistible to a young woman and slightly questionable to an older one). Director Shelton has a knack for coaxing natural, lived-in performances from her actors, so it's no surprise that the performances here are top-notch. The characters are great, and their interactions feel authentic and well-observed, but certain plot elements—a dentist with magic powers that heal TMJ?—are just so weird that it's hard to reconcile them with the natural, unfussy filmmaking that is Shelton's strength. ALISON HALLETT


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Seattle, WA 98104
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