Studio Lumiere International/United Artists, 1997
Source: Based on the Elmore Leonard Novel,
Director: Paul Schrader
Producer:: Fida Attieh and Lila Cazés
Screenwriter:: Paul Schrader
Cast:: LL Cool, Gina Gershon, Conchata Ferrell, John Doe, Christopher Walken, Skeet Ulrich, María Celedonio, Chris Hogan, Anthony Zerbe, Bridget Fonda, William Newman, Tom Arnold, Breckin Meyer, Matt O’Toole, Richard Fancy, Lolita Davidovich, Paul Mazursky, Janeane Garofalo.
Touch is Elmore’s “non-crime novel.” He wrote it in the late Seventies but it was not published until 1986, owing in part to its controversial story. The film was directed by Paul Schrader, no stranger to envelop pushing stories. Touch focuses on an ex-monk named Juvenal (Skeet Ulrich) who has the stigmata - the wounds of Christ—and bleeds from his hands and feet. Juvenal performs miracles and is “discovered” by evangelist turned RV dealer Bill Hill (Christopher Walken), who sees a goldmine in Juvenal. Hill’s plans of book deals and TV talk show visits are compromised when his former associate, Lyn Faulkner (Bridget Fonda) falls for Juvenal and has second thoughts about exploiting him. Then we meet the Reverend August Murray (Tom Arnold), a religious fanatic who also wants to exploit Juvenal and sees Lynn as a corrupting influence and threat. He is determined to get rid of her. Touch had the Elmore Leonard sound as Schrader pretty much “shot the book.” The resulting film was somewhat subdued and low-key, but the film, like the book, takes a whimsical, black-comedy look at the exploitation of faith. The film had a tiny theatrical release and was overlooked by other Elmore Leonard films that came out the same year. The strong cast and Schrader’s feel for Elmore’s material make Touch worth seeing. I
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