SUNDANCE: ‘Lovelace’, ‘Touchy Feely’, and ‘Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes’

lovelaceAs we wrap up our coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, I’m quickening the pace by lumping some of my remaining reviews together. I’ll be doing quick looks at a trio of films that underwhelmed me to some degree. I’ll be talking about ‘Lovelace’, ‘Touchy Feely’, and ‘Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes’ briefly here, but look for full reviews later this year when they hit theaters. ‘Lovelace’ is the one I think most of you are interested in, so that will get a slightly longer write up here, while the rest are just briefly touched upon.

Lovelace (**½)

The co-directors of ‘Howl’ (a personal favorite of mine a few years back) Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have crafted a pretty standard biopic of porn star Linda Lovelace here. They do some interesting things with the way they present the story, but the real selling point here are the performances of Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard. The latter is real good, but the former is the revelation. If the movie was slightly more engrossing I could see her making a play for a Best Actress nomination this year. It still might happen if the film is a hit, but I have my doubts.

Following Linda Lovelace (Seyfried) from her teenage years until her middle aged crusade against pornography begins, we see just how she ended up starring in the most successful porn movie of all time ‘Deep Throat’. Initially in love with Chuck Traynor (Sarsgaard), she falls under his spell and quickly learns of her abusive nature. Thus begins the road towards drugs, sex, and violence. There aren’t really any new facts here, just what the public already knows about Lovelace.

With a cast that includes the aforementioned Seyfried and Sarsgaard, plus the likes of Adam Broad, Sharon Stone, James Franco, Juno Temple, and more, you’d think the script by Andy Bellin would have been slightly better. Epstein and Friedman do what they can, but ultimately I was mildly let down. Seyfried is excellent though, so it was far from a total disappointment.

Touchy Feely (**½)

touchyI’m normally a fan of Lynne Shelton’s films, but something about her new movie ‘Touchy Feely’ just didn’t work for me. Perhaps this one is too fantastical, but despite a real nice performance by Josh Pais and solid work from a cast that includes Rosemarie DeWitt, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Scoot McNairy, and Ellen Page, I just was never engaged by the material. Shelton has some interesting visuals, but the story centers around a massage therapist who becomes sickened by human touch and a dentist who somehow finds himself able to cure TMJ. I never bought into it and spent the whole time trying to figure out the why instead of letting the characters (which are admittedly pleasurable to spend time with) just take me away. That’s usually what happens with movies by Shelton, but it didn’t happen here. Alas…

Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes (**½)

emanuelAside from nice work by Jessica Biel and Kaya Scodelario I did not get this one at all. Filmmaker Francesca Gregorini throws a lot against the wall with this dramatic thriller of sorts, but very little sticks. It’s as if she couldn’t decide if she wanted to focus on the teenager who sees a woman move in next door that has a striking resemblance to her dead mother or on the woman herself, who has a baby doll that she carries around and literally thinks is an actual baby. The ideas are interesting, but the execution is way too hit or miss for my taste. Biel and Scodelario are good, but other than that I was just puzzled by what the point is here. The look of the flick is cool, but the content was lacking in my eyes.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!