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Earnest Fight for Living

Review of the Movie “High Touch”



Perhaps it can be said that today more documentaries are produced than ever (perhaps even equal to or more than narrative films), but do all of these documentaries have audiences? According to the IMDB website, about 11,000 documentaries were released in 2020, a strange figure that can be guessed to have increased even more with the peak of the Covid-19 crisis. During the pandemic, many people simply used their mobile phones to record and document their daily lives, which due to the special circumstances, was understandable and intriguing for residents of other parts of the world as well. The main crisis of documentary production is that due to the lack of clear and powerful platforms for broadcasting these works, important products that are made throughout the year often go unseen.


The documentary “High Touch” can confidently be considered one of the remarkable and worth-watching works of documentary cinema. The director of this film, Karlie Hustle, who discovers she has breast cancer on Christmas 2018, invites us in this 43-minute documentary to watch the deepest moments of human emotions. Hope and enthusiasm, fear and ambiguity, and of course the strong desire of humans to live. Pure and sincere moments where life is faced with all its problems, afflictions, joys, and human desires. Moments where one can see the reflection of the free and liberated spirit of a human being. Moments that deal with the most personal experiences of each of the audiences and remind everyone of difficult situations in their own life. In this regard, the cinematography and editing have given a seamless and fluid tone to the work. Without the usual cinematic manipulations that may have been tainted with various tricks and strategic decisions, we will witness the perfect struggle of humanity. Karlie Hustle has made a difficult and important choice; by recording these scenes and capturing different personal situations of a person struggling with cancer, and also by talking about the feelings and conditions she experiences, she takes us to the heart of this experience.


Director Karlie Hustle

In terms of structure, “High Touch” can be considered a valuable and even educational work for documentary enthusiasts; the film has many diverse locations. Typically, in such movies, the filmmaker is content with interviewing a few patients and specialists and showing a few scenes from the treatment process, especially since there is always a message, warning, or lesson to be conveyed to the audience at the end. What causes many documentaries to be purely educational and far from the artistic nature of such productions is precisely this. However, in “High Touch”, we are faced with a documentary as art. With a work that includes a variety of locations such as hospitals, city streets, the patient's home, various office buildings, inside the cars, restaurants, different houses, and more. In all of these, we encounter many characters who interact with Karlie Hustle and talk to her or about her, and Karlie herself also engages in conversation with them or with us. The movie is valuable in that it presents everyday life to us and the individual is seen in society. Society is not eliminated, and the individual is not isolated.


Isolating the individual from society and showing their solitude is a path that many documentarians choose. We have often seen the heroes of documentaries (whether in sports or art or any other field) separated from other members of society to focus more on them. This focus on the character often makes their living environment unrealistic. But one of the positive features of “High Touch” is that it studies the individual in the midst of society. A person who, due to cancer, is in a special situation and is still one of the members of this society and must be seen in the context and background of social, administrative, work-related, friendly relationships, etc. The conversations that take place between Karlie and others in this context are another strong point of the work.


The dynamic and captivating images of the film constantly move from one space to another, and the dialogues and monologues we hear take us deeper into the lives of these characters. The dynamism of these images is also hidden in the type of cinematography, which is a combination of static and moving shots. In static shots, someone is usually sitting somewhere and talking, on the steps in front of a house, on a balcony, or in an enclosed space. These shots are all stationary. Moving shots, filmed with the camera in hand, follow the person on the street or sidewalk and accompany them, or belong to moments that we are supposed to witness, such as family members hugging each other. The editing of these images also leads to location and temporal diversity, making the movie fluid and expansive as it progresses, both in terms of location variety and the number of people we see.

The filmmaker succeeded to show the emotions of different people through their words and in an intimate and friendly space. Karlie Hustle shows us the struggle for survival without slogans or simple messages. Through the unfiltered display of the main character's personal life and through her words and those of her surroundings, without any message or slogan, the film leads us to the conclusion that life is beautiful and worth fighting for.


The documentary “High Touch” is cohesive both in terms of production, which employs creative and intelligent methods to advance the work, and in terms of content. This cohesion and consistency make the subject matter, even if we have seen it before in another movie, narrated in a novel and fresh way. The subject is not a point of reference for the filmmaker; she relies on expression. Karlie Hustle knows that if she can create a documentary that includes scientific information, personal words, feelings, and emotions of individuals, while simultaneously having artistic aspects in terms of cinematography, editing, and narrative progression, her work will be enduring. That is why, when “High Touch” comes to an end, we feel like we have returned from a long and adventurous journey full of points to ponder, and we can once again contemplate moments of it in our minds.

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