Freaky Friday plot twist that's never satisfyingly rationalised nor elaborated upon. With Touchy Feely, Shelton appears to be following the well-trodden path of her contemporaries by searching for a mature, yet mischievous tone preferred in today's accessible American independent cinema. Sadly, the film feels like yet another product of the recent studio appropriation of mumblecore as a commodity, ultimately removing any semblance of individualism and feeling like just another product off the factory conveyor belt.
Shelton's characters come across as superimposed from the vanguard of the movement, lacking in empathy and at worse being genuinely dislikable; especially DeWitt's shallow masseuse, who's a clear and irritating product of a Brand Ethical society that achieves contentment through a sense of betterment over their peers. The inability of people to make authentic connections in a world dominated by social media feels like a pertinent topic, but by removing any sense of empathy from her characters, Shelton finds herself equally unable to connect with her audience. More cloyingly still, close-ups of skin are compared with the cracks and deficiencies in pavement and plants, a clear metaphor for how Abby needs to be more grounded and come down from her spiritual citadel of superiority.
These heavy-handed metaphors demonstrate a limited visual vocabulary and feel jarring against Touchy Feely's otherwise stripped-back aesthetic. They also reveal a complete misunderstanding of the issues at hand. Approaching middle-class malaise without the slightest understanding of its roots, Shelton's characters are determined to solve the world's problems by being a little bit more 'right-on' or by finally accepting the love of a man. By not looking at the issue objectively, such as the oppressive class structure and the insatiable aspirational hunger fostered through a capitalist system, Shelton ignores the fact there's a bigger force at hand here - something she ironically fails to communicate in this bland and incredibly pedestrian attempt to tap into American counter-culture.