Touch review

Elmore Leonard. Bridget Fonda. Sounds good. Sounds, in fact, like Jackie Brown. Except Touch, the latest of the author's adaptations to hit the big screen, doesn't have anything approaching the style or wit of Tarantino's movie, nor the snap and crackle of Get Shorty. Instead, it's a lame, ugly-looking movie that can't decide whether it wants to be a comedy, crime pic or religious satire.

It doesn't help having Ulrich (As Good As It Gets, Scream) as the lead. Passable in bit parts, he doesn't have the authority to make Juvenal - the hero, whose healing powers cause uproar among LA's religious sects - an imposing character. Nor does he have any fun with it: that's left to Walken, hamming it up as a fruitcake evangelist, and Arnold, who's surprisingly good as a Mary Whitehouse-style moral crusader.

Most of the female stars (Fonda's love interest, Gershon's TV talk-show host, Garofalo's reporter) are wasted in half-formed roles, although Davidovich uses the conversation-stopping "I sit on your face, and you guess my weight" as a come-on.

Director Schrader has never been much cop with women, and the laidback style he perfected in '80s movies like American Gigolo is way wrong for the faster, funnier '90s. Add bad timing (Walken tells Arnold to put his cash away before he's even produced it) and drab cinematography, and you have an intermittently amusing, but mostly dull, dud that saps the life out of one of Leonard's more second-rate novels.

A plodding, messy, cheap and corny addition to the Elmore Leonard filmography, made by a director whose time has come and gone. Only Walken and Arnold's overacting livens things up; otherwise it wouldn't be any fun at all.

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