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Touched is one of those films that you can hardly believe is competing in the Concorso Cineasti del presente section. Claudia Rorarius’ first film is able to envelop the viewer in the flames of love of the two protagonists (Maria and Alex) and then slowly burn it with the ardor of hatred that follows. A relationship that is born in professional circumstances between a nurse and her patient, but that after deep and impetuous silences immediately turns into passion that both have been looking for a lifetime, finding their source of pride and redemption.
The strong and passionate narrative is enhanced by a neat, bold, colorful aesthetic that emphasizes the figures of its protagonists in order to create surprising and never boring compositions. The choice of the 4:3 format is able to encapsulate the fantasies of this secret relationship such as to allow the viewer a look that is anything but voyeuristic: Claudia Rorarius spares nothing to the viewer by making him participate in sexual activities without any kind of filter. A courageous choice, but one that helps to normalize sexuality between a heavily overweight woman and a quadriplegic man by praising his particular traits with a photograph that cries out for a miracle. Touched is a film that wants us to walk the path of two special people, who for obvious reasons – and I say obvious because sight is the only sensory unit able to judge – want to rediscover their sexuality, but do not arouse pity, a task that is never easy when dealing with issues of this type. On the contrary, Rorarius’ staging glorifies them, exploring the specialties of their bodies. What results is the sumptuousness of their physical bond. An insistent bond, which occupies so much space within the film, but which is also a fundamental part of the narrative development.
Alex is a disillusioned man, a victim of his condition. He realizes that he can no longer feel pleasure and this frustration leads him to make drastic decisions. Mary, for her part, seems to accept herself, but still has a great need for affection. She is a woman who has found a glimmer of personal fulfillment thanks to Alex, and perhaps even manages to make him regain pleasure. The well-kept narrative times take the viewer with information little by little, but between one erotic scene and another, the true personalities and frustrations are revealed, and the dark human nature begins to impose itself on passion.
The main intrigue of Touched can seem redundant and may bore less courageous viewers. Let's face it, such stories are starting to be the norm in contemporary auteur cinema. However, if they are made and staged with this distinctive trait, with this elegance, delicacy and personality, I can't wait to see a thousand more. Touched convinces on all fronts, drags the viewer into a layered love story, complex, magical and terrifying at the same time. It leaves nothing to chance and allows the viewer to embark on a journey between heaven and hell, between love and hate. A real pearl of Locarno76 and a great new filmmaker to discover and support.