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Human Touch, The
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by Chris Parry

"Lifestyles of the rich and highly sexual."
3 stars

Australian filmmakers are definitely not afraid of sex and nudity. Anyone who saw Sacha Horler letting it all hang out in 1998's drunken-sex drama Praise, and subsequently again in Soft Fruit (both of which she won AFI Awards, for in the same year) understands that while Hollywood likes its starlets dressed slutty but refusing to be slutty, the aussies see reality in the opposite way. Sometimes a woman just wants to throw her legs over her shoulders, as my buddy Sean used to say. Of course, he'd say that shortly before receiving a slap, but his point was that, in the real world, women like sex as much as men do. Human Touch, Paul Cox's latest, explores that notion and then some, while throwing in a little cautionary tale that might remind some of Hollywood's own Indecent Proposal.

I never quite understood why Jacqueline McKenzie never went the way of Cate Blanchett, Frances O'Connor, Rachel Griffiths, Toni Collette and Nicole Kidman. These women proved over and over in their home country of Australia that they could act up a storm, as McKenzie has in films such as Angel Baby and Romper Stomper, before moving to the big show and becoming bona fide stars on the world stage. McKenzie, however, stalled at the line, deciding to take a chance at stardom with the awful Renny Harlin-driven shark action movie, Deep Blue Sea.

Elizabeth, The Sixth Sense, Hilary and Jackie... Deep Blue Sea. Which of these isn't quite like the others?

So McKenzie toils at home, and thus shows up in Paulus Henriqus Benedictus Cox's latest, where she plays Anna, a choral singer looking for a little extra cash to take her troupe on tour to China. She meets a wealthy eccentric (Chris Haywood) who asks to photograph her portrait - nude - and decides to consent to the odd request because he seems like a nice old guy... and maybe because she's feeling a little attention-starved at home.

Home life consists of shagging her artist boyfriend, David (Aaron Blabey), gabbing with her buddy from the choir (Rebecca Frith) and house-sitting an apartment the belongs to someone else, so her regular outings to go see Daddy Artbucks provide a small respite from drudgery, allowing her to feel wanted, sexually attractive, and a little naughty. Of course, boyfriend David is perplexed by this - first laughing at the idea, then annoyed by it, then utterly pissed off by it when his amateurish shag prompts are rebuffed by the now worldly woman beside him. What follows is much sexuality, much dime store philosophical discussion about art and sex and art in sex, and regular shots of Ms McKenzie's 'gina.

The cautionary tale aspect? Well, you can see it coming a mile away, but that really isn't the point of the film. Paul Cox likes to put people that aren't necessarily centerfolds into sexual situations, thus reminding us that lovemaking isn't about spanking a woman's ass and saying, "you like that, don't you?"; it's more about the 'love' portion of the concept.

And no, i'm not saying that Jacqueline McKenzie is no centerfold - she's gorgeous, no doubt about it, but she's not the Catherine Zeta Jones/J Lo-type that Hollywood tells everyone they should aspire to. She's a real woman who likes to throw the legs over once in a while.

More power to her.

Paul Cox blew a lot of minds with his 2000 old-folks-getting-it-on film, Innocence, and Human Touch treads similarly hoed ground. It's a fine film to look at, and there's certainly good intention behind it, but some rough dubbing, as well as situations and characters that seem thrown together rather than well flushed out, make it a very up and down (no pun intended) affair. In a film like this, you usually want to be able to say that those who buy a ticket just to see Jacqueline McKenzie getting naked will be missing out on the best part of the experience... sadly, though the film is a treat to look at, when it comes to Human Touch those people looking for a quick perv may just be getting the better part of the equation.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10594&reviewer=1
originally posted: 10/06/04 15:20:47
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For more in the Australian series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/19/05 ABomb Chris heywood photographs nude young women...isn't that every Paul Cox movie? 1 stars
9/21/04 John Morris A lush film with interesting thesis. 4 stars
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Directed by
  Paul Cox

Written by
  Paul Cox

  Jacqueline McKenzie
  Aaron Blabey
  Julia Blake
  Rebecca Frith
  Chris Haywood
  Kirstie Hutton

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