This winner of the Golden Bear at the 2018 Berlin Festival breaks new ground in many aspects of documentary cinema as it explores the fluid boundary between reality and fiction. Together, Adina Pintilie and her three main protagonists examine the universal human need for intimacy and question the standard ideals of beauty.
Laura (played by actor Laura Bensen) doesn’t like being touched, and she confronts her phobia in a series of encounters—with a sex therapist, a transsexual and an escort. Her journey of discovery is intercut with scenes from group therapy sessions in which Tómas (Tómas Lemarquis, who's completely hairless), Christian (Christian Bayerlein, who has a progressive muscle disease) and his lover all lay themselves bare—figuratively and literally.
In many films the camera is used to establish the boundary between filmmaker and subject, but here it’s an instrument of unification, mutual examination and exploration. The whites and soft gray tints in which Pintilie captures these scenes might sometimes feel clinical, but they harbor a warm, beating heart filled with despair, love and empathy.