» » Touch Me Not (2018)

Short summary

Together, a filmmaker and her characters venture into a personal research project about intimacy. On the fluid border between reality and fiction, Touch Me Not follows the emotional journeys of Laura, Tómas and Christian, offering a deeply empathic insight into their lives.
"Tell me how you loved me, so I understand how to love." Together, a filmmaker and her characters venture into a personal research project about intimacy. On the fluid border between reality and fiction, Touch Me Not follows the emotional journeys of Laura, Tómas and Christian, offering a deeply empathetic insight into their lives. Craving for intimacy yet also deeply afraid of it, they work to overcome old patterns, defense mechanisms and taboos, to cut the cord and finally be free. Touch Me Not looks at how we can find intimacy in the most unexpected ways, at how to love another without losing ourselves.

Trailers "Touch Me Not (2018)"

This is director Adina Pintilie's feature film debut.

Shot without a traditional screenplay or written dialogue.

Actor Christian Bayerlein was born with a severe disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). He has a diploma in computer science and works as a web developer at the German Federal Archives. He lives in Koblenz, Germany, and was the Honorary Disability Officer of Koblenz for five years until 2015. Because of his participation in provocative art and his intimate interviews - available online in German - concerning his sexual life as a disabled person, the ruling political party CDU was against his re-election. On his personal website '' Christian writes about himself: "I'm a nerd, loving Science and Science Fiction - especially 'Star Trek'. I travel a lot, seeing the world is one of my big passions. I love to hang out with friends and go to the cinema as well as enjoying arts and culture."

Adina Pintilie is only the 6th female director to win the Golden Bear for Best Feature Film. The other women were Márta Mészáros (for Örökbefogadás (1975)), Larisa Shepitko (for Voskhozhdenie (1977)), Jasmila Zbanic (for Grbavica (2006)), Claudia Llosa (for La teta asustada (2009)) and Ildikó Enyedi (for Teströl és lélekröl (2017)).

The film project took 7 years from the first concept to the premiere.

This is the second Romanian feature to win the Golden Bear after Pozitia copilului (2013).

Shot in 10 weeks between 2015 and 2017.

Touch Me Not (2018) is the first part of a research and art project by Adina Pintilie, that will be created for several platforms.

There were reportedly many walk-outs during the first press screening. But later at the world premiere, there were only very few and the reception was positive including a big applause.

Over 250 hours of raw footage were shot.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Armin
    Touch Me Not is the feature debut of Romanian director Adina Pintilie which premiered on the 68th Berlinale as part of the Golden Bear competition program, which it shockingly won.

    The film takes the viewer into the lives of several people with the aim to take them and the viewer on an honest journey of self-discovery that will inevitably lead to overcoming emotional barriers and letting go of self-imposed fears.

    At the beginning, the director appears as herself and with an expressionless face states the following line into the camera: 'Tell me how you loved me, so I understand how to love', which aims to introduce and establish her film as an answer to its underlying conflict - the lack of intimacy. While the exploration of such an issue is definitely worthwhile, the following question arises: Does the film succeed in its endeavor with honesty, dignity and respect? The answer is no. Not only does the film fail blatantly at exploring its subject matter in depth, but it also resorts to cheap tricks in order to try to get its presumed point across. The end result is a chaotic mess of pseudo-intellectualism and shallowness that is on one hand unbelievably silly and on the other - outright arrogant in its assumption that the lack of talent could pass as art and that no one would be able to make the difference.

    The first major problem of the film is the lack of a structured story and characters. What we get instead, is people that we are not in any meaningful way introduced to, but still somehow expected to empathize with. The viewer is forced to withstand torturous and dry dialogues between the presumed protagonist Laura with various other characters that appear onscreen just enough to introduce themselves by their names and profession, strip naked in front of the camera and then disappear. Suddenly, all those moments designed to stand as bold statements of personal freedom come out as farce. We get that the characters enjoy being who they are and feel no shame about it, but how does this help the overall point of the film? There are the characters of Tomas (played by Tómas Lemarquis) and Mona (Irmena Chichikova). Tomas is having issues with being close to people and attends a workshop to work this out. Mona is his love interest. That's it. Their characters are so redundant and irrelevant to the "story" that are not even worth mentioning. We are being told that there is a conflict for each of them, yet nothing happens. We just seem to be wandering aimlessly from one blank room to another and then to another one and finally to a sex club, which allegedly serves as the culmination of the film. We do not see any significant change in the characters, not if you count Laura dancing naked in front of the camera at the end of the film as an act of "freedom" confirming that her fears have been overcome. Unfortunately, the scene looks more or less like a parody and does not get anything from the audience except for sarcastic laughter.

    The only character we get to know more than the others is Christian Bayerlein - a man suffering from severe disability that has rendered his body absolutely dysfunctional, except for a few parts. The film manages to convince the viewer that despite his limitations, Christian is happy and has a good life on his own terms. In any other case, this would be admirable. Unfortunately, this is where the film fails morally and breaks its promise of honesty. If the relation between body and issue was to be explored seriously, Christian should have been the main protagonist. Instead, his personal fate is reduced to being a tool by which Pintilie shamelessly manipulates the viewer in order to guarantee herself some squeezed out empathy. Herein lies the film's greatest shame.

    Several things could also be said about the supposed "shocking" nature of Touch Me Not. Many media outlets were quick to point-out that many journalists and regular audience members walked-out of the screenings due to the explicit sexual scenes. It is true that more conservative people could find the full-frontal nudity or the epileptic BDSM sex club scene off-puting, but to state that this was the main reason why people left is nothing more than presenting an opinion for a fact. While the film certainly does not shy away from full frontal displays of genitalia and explicit sexual behavior on screen, this could not in any possible way change one simple fact - the film is not capable of holding the viewer's attention. No matter how hard the creators and producers of Touch Me Not try to present it as bold, graphic and experimental, the main reason why it failed with audiences was because it gave them nothing to hold on to. Although both the cinematography and sound design are excellent (the only good things about this film), shots of nipples and body hairs gets quite annoying very quickly. The question that remains is "Why there were so many of them?" Probably, because the director likes them and there is no further meaning or explanation to this.

    Touch Me Not is a fine example of a product that is grandiose in pretentiousness, plentiful in self-indulgence and offensive in the disrespect that it demonstrates to its viewers. In the end, all of this could have been forgiven if the film was not what it ultimately is - excruciatingly boring. I would advise you to skip it if you value your time.
  • comment
    • Author: JoJogar
    'Touch me not' is the most pretentious and pseudo art intellectual film I've ever seen. Even if you like the work of directors such as Lars von Trier or Gaspar Noe, you will be totally confused and shocked by this one.

    My personal feeling is that the director's aim was only to provoke instead of really exploring in depth the subject of intimacy. And here comes the reason why I'm leaving two stars instead of one. The general idea of the movie is a good one and is related to a trending problem in the western world. However, the end result leaves us more distant from the core of the issue than before watching the movie. Furthermore, this misachievment is accompanied by long scenes, boring lines, unpleasant characters and exaggerations.

    'Touch me not' leaves the viewer with the feeling of emptiness, despair and disgust. And inevitably comes the question: 'How did this film win the Golden Bear prize?' and the apprehension that the critical success of such films is a symptom of a growing alienation and loss of values in our society.
  • comment
    • Author: Zeus Wooden
    First of all, after reading some of the comments posted here I'm surprised in this day and age the nudity and scenes of sexuality in "Touch Me Not" were shocking to so many people; I never felt that these scenes were done in an exploitative manner and they seemed natural to the film's theme. I left the theater, however, wondering why this film was made in the first place and what its point was. It touches on so many issues involving intimacy but never seems to focus on any of them long enough to come to any clear follow-through. The director's style seemed almost stream of consciousness at times and it added to the fragmented and disjointed feel. As an example, I thought the relationship that evolved between Tomas and Christopher seemed to be the most fully realized one in the film; Tomas expresses how this has changed his perspective of himself, but still seems flat and emotionless. At the end of the film Laura appears to finally come to an epiphany of some kind, but there weren't enough details for me to really understand why. Did Pintilie shoot without a script and a vague idea of what she wanted and then attempt to form a film in the editing room? It feels that way. "Touch Me Not" is an intriguing and sometimes fascinating experiment. It's a film is about emotions, but it felt distant and flat to me.
  • comment
    • Author: Vutaur
    I saw Adina Pintilie's "Touch Me Not" at the world premiere and I saw nobody leaving the sold out Berlinale Palace. There was also a huge applause by the audience at the end. No one was booing or screaming. It was a nice, pleasant evening with a rather unusual audience: A mix of high-profile cultural figures, some transvestites and transsexuals, some disabled people and many ordinary folks like myself, who were just happy they could get a ticket.

    There have been a few false reports, where I could read to my surprise, that "masses left the screenings" etc. but in fact this happened ONLY at the very first press screening before the world premiere. Some press people obviously thought they didn't need to watch this, because at the beginning you get to see a little unsimulated sex. I also read, that the part of the press, that decided to stay until the end, applauded the film. So, the few dozens of journalists, who were so 'shocked' by a little tasteful sex and artful nudity, that they had to run away and get therapeutic help, DO NOT REPRESENT the whole audience. They only represent the awful state of film journalism, because - honestly - how do these lazy people want to write now a review of a film they didn't even see ? They should be fired.

    I liked the movie, because it was formally different, thematically interesting and in-your-face-radical in a rather entertaining way. It's not a boring experimental film about things you don't care about - on the contrary it makes you think about sexuality, bodies, norms, intimacy, trauma and the possibility of therapy. Last but not least, it's a beautifully made film with striking cinematography, inventive editing, immersive sound design and dissonant music by avant-garde band "Einstürzende Neubauten" - it all looks and sounds very distinct and fascinating, a true art object.

    In some of the few 'shocked' reviews I read - f.e. by the shallow snob Peter Bradshaw or the crazy Susanne Ostwald - you really get the feeling, that these so-called critics don't do their work. They don't try hard enough to understand what an artist like Pintilie was trying to do. Especially the ridiculous accusation of 'exploitation of disabled people' can't be taken seriously. Christian Bayerlein and the few other disabled or unusual people appearing in "Touch Me Not" are only limited by their bodies, but have an articulate mind and interesting things to say. It's possible, that you will see so-called 'handicapped people' in a totally new light after watching this film - and that's a good thing.

    Critics like the incredibly ignorant Susanne Ostwald scare me, because she appears to feel threatened by a progressive film like this, which tries to include people out-of-the-norm in our popular culture by taking their needs seriously. Why does she feel so disturbed by a fascinating man like Christian Bayerlein, who happens to be disabled, but still loves to enjoy his sex life with his wife Grit? Does it hurt her sense of 'beauty'? Every group has a need to be represented in popular culture, even if Ms. Ostwald doesn't like them in her entertainment. Nobody forced her to see "Touch Me Not": She can rent a copy of the latest Zac Efron rom com or "Bridget Jones" anywhere, if she is in the mood for some 'sexy time' with the 'men of her dreams'. But disabled people don't have their rom coms. Fortunately many of the other critics agree with me, that "Touch Me Not" succeeds at creating more empathy for different and disabled people and they see nothing 'exploitative' about casting them in a film. Christian Bayerlein is now a new hero of mine.

    I'm not surprised that President Tom Tykwer and the high-profile jury at the Berlinale decided to give their top award to "Touch Me Not", because it's challenging in ways that only few films are today. Tykwer himself showed in his work, that it is possible to go beyond the norms, even if you work in the mainstream: F.e. in his short "True" (2004) and in his feature "The Princess and the Warrior" (2000) the actor Melchior Derouet - who is blind since birth - was cast as a supporting character. And he was a fine actor. Is that 'exploitation', too?

    This is a film best enjoyed with an open mind and curiosity for other people. It's great that the jury could appreciate such an experimental film, because it might inspire more daring cinema. Adina Pintilie's innovative film shows that cinema can still be a truly humanistic experience.
  • comment
    • Author: Yar
    I am on the fence with this one. I could say that it brilliantly exposes deceit and vanity, and wouldn't be that far off. I could call it an honest, if flashy and sometimes arrogant, exploration of failed intimacy on a pedestal, and I think I'd have a point there. I felt at times that it was indeed full of vanity and self-importance. Since, luckily, I didn't see the movie on my own, and saw it without knowing anything about it, I found the experience led to an interesting conversation. In the end, I'd say it was a so-so movie, but a worthwhile experience.
  • comment
    • Author: Manarius
    I am such a fan an supporter of contemporary Romanian cinema but this is below any expectation. I felt almost asleep countess times during this film and wondered why doctors don't prescribe this movie instead of sleeping pills. It's an artsy, indie wanna be movie, full of long abstract framing and too thought out scenery; feels like everything is not genuine and bad acting is ominous; far-fetched emotions and relations between characters; the story lacks any truthfulness and is not intriguing at all I would put in the bucket of contemporary cinema that implies that shocking issues and nudity would automatically make a movie artsy and festival-ready...
  • comment
    • Author: Aurizar
    Touch Me Not is (for me,) one of those types of films that grows on you after viewing it, be that good or bad. In my case it was a good thing. It's not a perfect film, there are parts (the over-use of white for one thing) that smacks a bit of pretentiousness (again to me), but this is a beautifully filmed movie, and the central character, I found interesting, and I wanted to journey with her as she lived out her quest to come to terms with demons from her past (I will say no more), and find peace within herself and move forward... her comment about being fifty and understanding her limited time of full health, and her need to live those dwindling totally healthy years, truly healthy (body and mind), really rang true. As a new director, I am interested to see where she can go next. In the year of #metoo and #timesup, it's win at Berlin could be construed as an homage to that, but I feel in many ways it did deserve its wins for showcasing these ideas in a very intelligent manner. There are moments in the film (the "therapists" sessions and one part of the sex club scene...again, no more as to spoil anything), that left me with mixed emotions, but I think it was my own thoughts, comfort levels and preferences that were influencing and projecting onto the scenes. It was these types of instances that drew me to like this film, for a movie that can make me question my ideas and perceptions is all right by me.
  • comment
    • Author: August
    Saw this last night or part of the sydney film festival. This is cinema, this is vulnerability in its purest and finest form. Everyone who worked on this film in my opinion did an outstanding part and job. The cinematography and sound where breathtaking. Thank you so much please don't stop showing this to the world
  • comment
    • Author: Nirad
    Overcome with nausea I had to leave the cinema. Seems no need to be this explicit to put your view forward on relationships. "Touch" is a divisive film that aims to address more issues than it can persuasively handle.
  • comment
    • Author: Jake
    How you were loved reveals how you love. Since guilt and fear often get in the way, Touch Me Not explores the real experiences of some who set out to widen their horizons, break conventions and confront prejudices. "With maybe 15 to 20 years of good health" one asks, "do I want to continue as I am living?" The film explores different perspectives on human relationships and opens new doors and possibilities of body and mind.

    Daring, personal and raw, Touch Me Not proceeds in voyeur-like fashion and invites dialogue about intimacy. Winner of golden bear at the Berlin film festival. North American premiere seen at the 2018 Toronto international film festival.
  • comment
    • Author: Clodebd
    I understand people's reservations about this film, it is quite challenging, mainly because it addresses issues which haven't been addressed before in cinema. Such as, why are we so scared of talking about intimacy? And how does this work on film? The film addresses both these questions in an interesting way. I can understand that many people are not used to the approach of the director, I would recommend reading a few interviews about the purpose of the film before viewing, Adina Pintilie is really good at articulating her purpose.
  • comment
    • Author: Ann
    A brave film that puts things, people, dimensions and perspectives on the table of truth, things that we do not look at easily, we do not look at at all or look with too much judgment and prejudice.

    I loved Laura from start to end, she kept the film in her hand in an extremely difficult role, an excellent actress that I would love to see in other productions.

    I also liked the music and cinematography, as well as the director's passion for innovation and experiment, her overall curiosity for life and courage to jump in the unknown.

    "Touch me not" is not a movie to fall in love with and not for people who live life at its surface, but it is a necessary, human and useful film, a movie that stays with you and raises new questions if you leave yourself open and allow it, if you accept the journey the director proposes to you.

    My opinion is that the film deserves its Golden Bear award, and because it's also a debut film for the director, the performance is even more impressive. I expect Adina Pintilie to return in the coming years with surprising productions as there's a lot of potential in her.
  • comment
    • Author: Skillet
    The most amazing, intelligent movie I ever saw. Thank you thank you thank you!
  • Credited cast:
    Laura Benson Laura Benson - Laura
    Tómas Lemarquis Tómas Lemarquis - Tomas
    Christian Bayerlein Christian Bayerlein - Christian
    Grit Uhlemann Grit Uhlemann - Grit
    Adina Pintilie Adina Pintilie - Adina
    Hanna Hofmann Hanna Hofmann - Hanna / transsexual
    Seani Love Seani Love - Seani
    Irmena Chichikova Irmena Chichikova - Mona
    Rainer Steffen Rainer Steffen - Stefan
    Georgi Naldzhiev Georgi Naldzhiev - Male Escort
    Dirk Lange Dirk Lange - Radu
    Annett Sawallisch Annett Sawallisch - Nurse
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Jette Blümler Jette Blümler
    Michael Braun Michael Braun
    George Chiper George Chiper
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