Touchy Feely (USA 2013)


Lynn Shelton


Lynn Shelton



Executive Producers:

Nancy Black, Dashiell Gantner, Trey Beck,


Vallejo Gantner, Dave Nakayama


Steven Schardt




Rosemarie DeWitt


Scoot McNairy


Ellen Page


Josh Pais


Ron Livingston


Allison Janney


Alycia Delmore


Hans Altwies


Sarah Rudinoff

Touchy Feely Woman

Sean Donavan


Shannon Kipp


Tomo Nakayama




(Complete Cast & Crew)

Touchy Feely




89 minutes





Filming dates:

13th April - 11th May 2012

Filming locations:

Seattle, Washington, USA


Rated R for language, some drug use and brief sexuality

World premiere:

19th January 2013 (Sundance Film Festival)

Company / Studio:

Most Favored Nations, Magnolia Pictures

Official website:

IMDb website:

DVD premiere:

6th November 2013 (Australia, Region Code 4, Madman Entertainment)



English Press Notes by Magnolia Pictures

(PDF Document, 130 KB)


Official synopsis:

Touchy Feely is a closely observed examination of a family whose delicate psychic balance suddenly unravels. Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), is a sought after massage therapist and a free spirit, while her brother Paul (Josh Pais) thrives on routine and convention, running a flagging dental practice and co-dependently enlisting the assistance of his emotionally stunted daughter Jenny (Ellen Page). Suddenly, transformation touches everyone. Abby develops an uncontrollable aversion to bodily contact, which not only makes her occupation impossible but severely hinders the passionate love life between her and her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy).

Official synopsis (Sundance):

What happens when a family’s delicate psychic balance suddenly unravels? Abby is a free-spirited massage therapist. Her brother, Paul, an emotional zombie, owns a flagging dental practice, where he enlists the assistance of his equally emotionally stunted daughter, Jenny. Suddenly, transformation touches everyone. Abby develops an uncontrollable aversion to bodily contact, which seriously hinders her chosen profession and the passionate love life she once shared with her boyfriend. Meanwhile, rumors of Paul’s “healing touch” begin to miraculously invigorate his practice. As Abby navigates through an identity crisis, her brother discovers a whole new side of himself.


  • The production employed over 50 Washington-based cast and crewmembers during the six-week filming
  • Instead of one key location, there were 15, which required a 20-day shooting schedule, as opposed to 10-12 for Lynn Shelton’s previous films
  • Lynn Shelton wrote the script in two months in preparation for a spring 2012 shoot
  • Part of Abby’s struggles are semi-autobiographical. A few years ago, Lynn Shelton fell into a mild depression that seemed to come from nowhere


  • “I already had been talking to Rose [DeWitt] for months about being in this movie. I sort of built the characters for her and Josh [Pais]. If they hadn’t been available, I wouldn’t have shot the movie.” (director Lynn Shelton on the two leading actors; Source:
  • “The two main characters are brother and sister who are going in different trajectories [...] Abby is somebody who’s really confident she’s good at what she does. Her identity is really tied to being a healer, somebody who really connects to other people physically. When that’s taken away from her, she’s completely undone. She doesn’t have anything to anchor her. [...] There’s a lot of internal struggle. Abby ends up really isolating herself. She’s trying to figure stuff out, and she ends up navigating through it by herself. [...] Quite the opposite of his sister, Paul is introverted. He hasn’t been able to connect to anybody, and he’s just kind of put his head down and decided, ‘Okay, I’m going to get through life.’ He’s very uptight. [...] People start telling him he’s a healer and start seeking him out. At first he doesn’t believe it, but then he started to really soak it in, and it ends up triggering a transformation in him. In this moment, he reaches out to Abby’s mentor, a Reiki practitioner named Bronwyn (Allison Janney, right). She ends up teaching him about her work. It’s a whole new world opening for him. This is kind of the peak of his journey of self-discovery. [...] Ellen Page plays a young woman who is in every aspect of her life, stuck. She encounters Abby’s boyfriend Jesse (Scoot McNairy), and, in the moment shown above, it becomes clear that they’re both sad in their own different ways. They have kind of a parallel emotional experience. Jesse is one of my favorite characters because he’s the one who’s struggling the least. You meet him at the beginning of the film and you don’t give him a ton of credit. He seems almost shallow — he’s not a serious character. But you realize he’s really grounded and just takes life as it comes and says what he feels and is very straightforward. He’s actually the most centered and doesn’t take himself too seriously — to his benefit. He ends up being a real stand-up guy.” (director Lynn Shelton on the actors and their corresponding characters; Source:
  • “It always kind of comes back to the same thing for me, which is the sense of ‘Who am I?’ I'm drawn to questions about your relationship to other people and how you sort of shift your sense of identity within your relationships with specific other people — but also in relationship with yourself.” (Director Lynn Shelton on the movie; Source:
  • "It's really about healers and what happens when people are in need of healing. It's very subtle. With "Your Sister's Sister" and "Humpday," it was all based on this wild, wacky premise that people all found our way through. This is way more subtle about the ways in which we heal and where we find healing. Alison Janney is just so good in it. I saw it. You know, you've seen her play some really strong women like on "The West Wing," and she's just Earth Mother in this." (actress Rosemarie DeWitt on what to expect from the movie; Source:
  • "I screamed and skipped around the house. Sundance was where I was praying it would be accepted, and then it happened! I’d been at Sundance before, but you just never know. They get so many submissions. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. When I found out, it was just as exciting as the first time I got in. I was able to stay for the entire festival, the whole 10 days, and it was a very strong festival this year." (director Lynn Shelton on finding out Touchy Feely made it into Sundance; Source:
  • "No, it just occurred to me after having received so many massages over the years. I started thinking about how odd it must be to touch a string of naked strangers. That’s so freaky and weird. That idea bounced around in my head for awhile and led me to a more universal question: If your occupation informs your sense of identity and self-worth, then what kind of hole does that put you in when it’s taken away, and how do you dig your way out?" (director Lynn Shelton on if she knew anyone who suffered with her lead character's aversion to skin; Source:
  • "My quest is to create characters who feel like real flesh and blood on screen. Sometimes that works if you’ve got the right dialog and actors that can make it sound as if it’s coming out of their mouths. But it’s nice to play off of the script too, like if an actor says, “That line doesn’t feel at home in my mouth. I want to say it differently.” Or if they want to change the trajectory and loosen things up and say the lines out of order, all of that really helps to keep the film dynamic, fresh and naturalistic." (director Lynn Shelton on improvisation; Source:
  • "Outstanding. Everyone feels a sense of ownership in creating a Lynn Shelton movie. Lynn chooses amazing people — including the crew. Every person there is committed to making the film the best it can be. Ellen and Rosemarie and Scoot [McNairy] and Allison — everybody was just delicious." (actor Josh Pais on working with the cast; Source:
  • "I played with creating somebody that was shut down and inside of himself, thinking that if he holds on tightly that will give him some kind of comfort but instead it creates nothing but discomfort." (actor Josh Pais on how he crafted his emotionally flawed character Paul; Source:
  • "I remember thinking ‘ok, Ellen. Improv! Be cool! Be present. Be in it,’ And then we started filming this dinner scene with Rose and Josh and Scoot and I thought ‘I am so bad. They’re going to kick me off this movie, they’re going to call another actress. I am garbage.’" (actress Ellen Page on her terror of improvising for the film; Source:
  • "I realized a couple takes into it that I’m completely forgetting that I’m playing Jenny. I’m completely forgetting everything we’ve been talking about. On top of having to seem natural in this scene, I’m playing a character who has really intense dynamics with every person in this room. I finally let go of my insecurity of seeming natural and present and connected with what I was actually feeling.” [...] “I deeply connected the feelings of staying at a certain place in your life because of your fear, your inability to be open and really step into who you are in your life and instead remaining in a situation that is really closing you off from that. To explore this girl’s deep sadness and her very quiet inner turmoil of trying to step out of that and trying to move forward and sort of let go of everything that’s allowed her to not be brave enough to do that? It really intrigued me." (actress Ellen Page on her character Jenny; Source:
  • "It’s all thanks to Catherine Keener. Ever since has been a dear, dear friend of mine. I was in Catherine’s car and we were driving up to a friend’s house north of L.A. and she said ‘oh my friend Lynn wants to talk to you about a movie.” [they just called Lynn Shelton and things started moving forward] "I saw Your Sister’s Sister and that was that. I wanted to experience working with this filmmaker and being part of her body of work. I was such a fan." (actress Ellen Page on how she came on board the project; Source:
  • "It’s so true and authentic and profound, despite it being so intimate. This summer has been an incredible example of people’s desire for films that really, really move them. Look at what people are talking about! The Spectacular Now? Oh my god, I loved that film so much. And the performances? Or a movie like Fruitvale? Such powerful, incredible movies that were made for very little and have totally found their audience and more. I feel totally inspired by that." (actress Ellen Page on the film; Source:
  • "It’s about how scary it is to be vulnerable. And how there’s actually much more courage in being vulnerable than the stereotype of what bravery is. The story might be small and contained, but it has a profound truth. That quiet struggle that Jenny’s going through, I can’t imagine who doesn’t relate to having a moment like that in her life. We’re all human beings struggling with the same emotional dilemmas: loneliness, isolation. I think isolation is an unspoken tragedy of what it means to be alive in modern society right now. Our yearning to connect, and the loss of that." (actress Ellen Page on the essence of the film; Source:
  • "I’m by no means a method actor. But it’s impossible to not let those feelings get into your veins." (actress Ellen Page on playing a lonely character; Source:
  • "The most nerve-wracking thing was, at first I was trying to feel so real and present in the scenes that I forgot I was playing a character. I was being Ellen, and feeling it not working. Then we would get to some moments, and I would get transported to the immediate raw emotions at the centre of it." [...] "But that’s the gift of the job I get to do. You get to move through so much of your own shit. You can go in to play a character and feel so different from her on a surface level. Next thing you know, it’s moving something inside of you that you didn’t know was there. What a gift that my job is about getting to feel." (actress Ellen Page on the challenges of the film; Source:

Release Dates:



Festival / Event / Location / Comment



19th - 24th January 2013

Sundance Film Festival 2013, Park City, UT


31st January 2013

Special screening / Music Box Theatre, Chicago, IL

United Kingdom

26th - 28th April 2013

Sundance London


23rd - 25th May 2013

Seattle International Film Festival


30th June 2013

Munich International Film Festival


1st August 2013

VOD Release



6th September 2013

Theatrical Release



23rd October 2013

American Film Festival


6th November 2013

Stockholm International Film Festival


6th November 2013

DVD Release



10th December 2013

DVD/Blu-ray Release



19th February 2014

DVD Release


United Kingdom

March 2014



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