Has art gone too far? Or not far enough? Comforting Skin is one of those shitty artsy film festival thrillers that try to be a lot of things and fails catastrophically at most of them. Let’s be honest here, pretentious art films are horrifying in and of themselves, but when done badly… Oh, if I hear that same set of somber piano notes one more time whilst the nude protagonist continues to look distantly contemplative in an uncomfortable sexual situation that calls for no such behavior, I may just smash something. If you’re afraid of feeling uncomfortable and/or annoyed while watching a movie, Comforting Skin will scare the unholy hell right out of you.
First and foremost, nudity. Lots of it. All the time. Are you, dear reader of reviews, at all interested in seeing Victoria Bidewell nude? Yes, no? Regardless, you will. This is an art film about living tattoos, you main-stream film inundated sheep. If there isn’t a bare breast every third cut, the material is too willingly oppressed by social taboo and is consequently rendered mundane and uninteresting to real film connoisseurs. Get it? Got it? Good.
Koffie (Bidewell) is an attention-starved junkie loser who lives with her neurotic, antisocial composer friend Nathan (Tygh Runyan). Nathan relies on her to do most “outside” things, like going out for breakfast with him or buying his groceries, and has exactly one truly amusing moment in which he fumblingly tries to order sausages and eggs at a breakfast joint. Following that, he’s relegated to being an emotional crutch for all of Koffie’s inane bullshit. It’s a little disappointing that the film would rather show us Koffie prancing around naked than explore Nathan’s personality a little further; the fact that he has no sexual interest in her (or her promiscuous junkie friend) makes him the most complex movie persona in the universe.
Once upon a time, Koffie was out partying, and when nobody paid any attention to her, she decided to get a tattoo. And then, for some inexplicable reason, this tattoo began to speak, and proceeded to help Koffie masturbate when her intention at the time had nothing to do with masturbation whatsoever. Between the tattoo’s pseudo-surreal, whispery, annoyingly indistinct voice, its appropriately (initially) comforting discourse, and its tendency to jack her off in elevators while appealing to her self-directed toe fetish, Koffie feel deeply, deeply in love with it. If there’s any semblance of self-love and self-acceptance buried in this movie’s metric ton of frustrated sexuality, you won’t see it. Actual happiness isn’t nearly pretentious enough.
Then some shit happens and the tattoo gets jealous of Koffie’s relationship with Nathan and that plays on her fear of being alone so she goes movie crazy. Like, cliché crazy, mumbling how the tattoo is hers and she loves it and it loves her over again while ignoring everything around her. And then she cuts her toes off with a white collar machete.
Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe this movie is actually art, and I’m the inundated sheep I sarcastically mentioned. All I know is that my final impression of Comforting Skin was one of irritation. I cannot stand self-important “I have a message buried in tumultuous human nature” garbage. Give it a watch, throw down a comment if I’m wrong, and please tell me why and how Comforting Skin is good. Also I’m lying, and if you actually comment that the movie is good then you really need to reevaluate your standards. “See past the nudity”, ha-gosh darn-ha.
The Bloody Disgusting review of Comforting Skin thinks that Nathan’s gay, but I think they’ve got it wrong, man. Nathan’s just not willing to subject himself to the romantic turbulence that comes with dating/screwing Koffie. But hey, whatever, it’s never explicitly stated. Or… maybe it is? I can’t remember, I was too busy wading through nearly two hours of angsty bullshit. Read the Bloody Disgusting review here, and go away. I need to watch something that doesn’t make me feel bad.