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Lynn Shelton gets 'Touchy Feely' -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

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Touchy Feely Ellen Page Scoot Mcnairy
Benjamin Kasulke

Lynn Shelton’s latest film has a touchy subject. Literally. The writer-director of Humpday and Your Sister’s Sister is re-teaming with Rosemarie DeWitt — who just scored a Spirit nom for Sister — on Touchy Feely, a drama about a massage therapist who develops an aversion to bodily contact. Shelton spoke exclusively with EW about the project, which she says goes into more dramatic territory that her previous projects. “It doesn’t have this rollicky, bantering feel that my last couple films have had,” she says. “It definitely has laughs, but it really is a drama. It’s really about attempting to live in your own skin, both literally and metaphorically.”

“The two main characters are brother and sister who are going in different trajectories,” Shelton explains of Abby (DeWitt) and Paul (Josh Pais). “I already had been talking to Rose for months about being in this movie. I sort of built the characters for her and Josh. If they hadn’t been available, I wouldn’t have shot the movie.”

In the above picture, Abby is coming to terms with her sudden affliction. “One thing that this film delves into that I’ve never really dealt with before is how your work relates to your sense of worth and your identity,” says Shelton. “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.”

This lonely, forelorn image is telling of Abby’s journey through Touchy Feely. “There’s a lot of internal struggle,” notes Shelton. “Abby ends up really isolating herself. She’s trying to figure stuff out, and she ends up navigating through it by herself.”

NEXT: Pais gets hands-on