Written by / 5/05/2012 / No comments / , , , , , ,

TOUCH

title: TOUCH
year: 1997
cast: Skeet Ulrich, Bridget Fonda
rating: **1/2

After the success of Barry Sonnenfeld's GET SHORTY, cult auteur Paul Schrader provides an Elmore Leonard adaptation in the same breezily entertaining style but with mixed results. The plot centers on a young man nicknamed Juvenal played by Skeet Ulrich – a Johnny Depp version of Ethan Hawke or vice versa – who, with the power to heal, is sought after by former sideshow evangelist/shyster Christopher Walken. The most intriguing aspect has Walken sending ingĂ©nue Bridget Fonda undercover where Juvenile works at a detox center. She learns he’s got more soul than those who want his powers for fame and money. And he's great looking to boot. When Juvenal heals random people... from the blind to the diseased... his wrists and side bleeds: this is called Stigmata and, being a serious subject, is surprisingly treated by director Schrader (who never strays from controversial religious subjects) like baking a cake. Once Skeet and Fonda hit the sack and our melancholy protagonist begins losing his touch, the film hits a wall – or two. Tom Arnold as a hypocritical religious fanatic, constantly meddling into everyone's business, proves his talents dwindled after a miraculous turn in TRUE LIES. Not sure if it’s a comedy or a drama or a melodrama or a romance, perhaps this fable, like Leonard's novel-turned-movies that work, could have used some guns-wielding criminals. And while it’s difficult to tell if TOUCH would have fared better without Schrader’s purposely-downplayed voyeur style of watching characters interact without much editing, perhaps he made this more interesting than it would have been otherwise. But the director and actors and the funky Dave Grohl soundtrack aren’t the problem… The bland script is what needed healing.
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