Touch – SIFF 2011 Movie Review

Touch [  USA (English), 2011, 110 minutes ]
Directed: Minh Duc Nguyen
Principal Cast: Porter Lynn, Melinda Bennett, and Duc Chinh
See it: May 21, May 23, 2011 at SIFF

Touch tells the story of Tam, a young Vietnamese manicurist working in a nail salon, and her struggle to find herself, repair her broken relationship with her father, and overcome an aversion to romantic relationships. Her struggle begins during a light hearted interaction when Brendan, an American mechanic, comes into the salon for help cleaning his hands and nails. His marriage is struggling and he thinks it is because his hands are dirty. Tam helps Brendan with his marital problems by cleaning his hands and offering advice.

The very first scene of the movie makes you cringe when one American woman begins talking about her husband’s toe fetish. The acting is over the top and you think the movie is a dud. A moment later, the woman finishes and the Vietnamese manicurists begin commenting (in Vietnamese) on the American woman’s story and you quickly fall in love with the writing and wit of the movie. What I and my fellow movie goers suspected as over acting turned out to just be an obnoxious customer, which I suspect is very real.

Overall the acting is not A quality, but the writing is fresh and the story is funny. It tackles the fine line of flirting, friending, and cheating, yet remains very real. Both characters grow and learn a lot about themselves.

Overall Entertainment / Enjoyment: A-
The movie was fun and different and worth watching.

Press Provided Synopsis:
At V.I.P. Nails, a Vietnamese-owned nail salon located in the poor area of Los Angeles, you can get a manicure for as low as $10. But come to this place at your own risk because here, the nail techs make fun of you in Vietnamese as they do your nails and you would never know it.

Tam, a recently hired manicurist, is not gossipy like the others. Kind and sweet, she has a way of making her customers comfortable and they open up to her. One day, a shy mechanic named Brendan walks in and asks for a manicure. He literally has a problem on his hands. He can never get rid of the oil stains around his nails, and when he tries to be intimate with his aloof wife, she always rejects him with the same excuse: “Your hands are filthy!” Desperately seeking to save his marriage, Brendan goes to the nail salon every day, where Tam does more than scrub his hands clean. She also offers him advice on how to get his wife to love him again. But soon, Tam and Brendan find themselves drawn to each other, an attraction which becomes harder and harder to resist.

The story also focuses on Tam and her strict father. Every week she visits him, where she cleans his place, cooks for him and gives him a bath. Her father was in a tragic car accident that killed her mother. The father survived but could no longer walk, and now he’s bitter that he has to depend on his daughter to take care of him. No matter how hard Tam strives to connect with him, he keeps pushing her away.

This sensual film explores the sense of touch and its emotional impact — how with just a simple touch, we can reveal our deepest longings, give the utmost pleasure to others and even heal a wounded soul.

Provided Film Synopsis

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