Directed by: #JoshCox
Touch Me Not is a beautiful and delicate #shortfilm that tells the story of two girls, Lily and Mesa (Jaime Sullivan and Molly Miles), who meet during a summer holiday and within a week they develop romantic feelings towards each other, but, unfortunately, as everything must end they face the expiration date that is coming.
The film is set in 1985, which makes perfectly sense for the story as the characters must experience the best of their love affair but also must experience the heartbreak it leads as communication was established only through phone or mail in those years. On the other hand, it could have been dealt with more sensitivity, as the character Mesa had piercings and tattoos that are unquestionably very current. Nevertheless, these details I was more than happy to ignore in order to enjoy the film, especially since the costume design was flawless, not only in response to the times the film was set to, but also to character development.
Josh Cox started the film by introducing Lily as she arrives in a villa to enjoy her holidays with her family, however, we are never introduced to her family and we are only delivered small details about her. We know that she is sensitive and artistic – she is quiet, reads a lot and draws from her feelings – but that is it. There is one phone conversation with her mother, which could have been handled in form of notes in order to emphasise her isolation. The isolation in question is not a bad thing, as it was created by her, after all, she is falling in love and only has eyes for the strange blonde she met on the riverside.
The film is clearly very low budget and it suffers from it – the sound design fails to provide a clean mixing and by the same token the dubbing was at times badly synchronised. Although these problems are caused because of the lack of funding, the dialogue and story progression were too hasty in delivering the acts. The conversation between Mesa and Lily, especially when they first meet, is too abrupt it breaks the innocence and cleanliness the film tries to convey. In a film like this one, we almost expect to read between the lines and to respond to the character’s body language and silence; instead, what happens in Touch Me Not is the opposite.
Having said that, some points of the film stand out due to their greatness. The actresses really incorporated their characters, mainly the innocent Lily that drives the story forward. Mesa, the enigmatic blonde that hides her sensitive side under her shell, is also a good character, but, as mentioned before, could have worked with better dialogue in order to explore her character further.
The work done by Cox in creating the atmosphere through clean and beautiful camera angles was spotless. As the film is told through Lily’s perspective, Cox chose medium shots to show us how Lily’s world is empty, but also, how full it can be when Mesa is in it. The still camera shots allow the characters to explore themselves and each other slowly, and it also give us time to breathe out and relax – giving into the harmony of summer holidays during a time when we didn’t have smartphones or social media to keep us occupied. Using these tools Cox created a teaser for the lesbian version of Call Me By Your Name we desperately need!