Ryan and Nadya are invited over to Leon and Nicola’s house but are concerned by Nicola who seems in distress at their presence in her home. Suffering from haphephobia, Nicola’s fear of being touched is causing friction in her relationship with Leon and preventing them from being intimate, not to mention causing her to be a nervous wreck in front of guests. Nicola finds she must face what scares her the most when a stranger with sinister intentions enters her home posing as a boiler repair man…
Watch the full short film below.
NICOLA: A TOUCHING STORY is a 15 minute, dramatic short film, written and directed by Dev Seth, that deals with the idea of love. The film presents a question at the end of whether true love is accepting someone for who they are or pushing them out of their comfort zone in order to help them overcome their issues.
In the film, we see Leon take drastic action in order to ‘cure’ his partner Nicola of the debilitating fear that controls her. His plan is that his psychologist friend will gain access to their home when he’s not in and attempt to sexually attack Nicola.
My take on this is that what is thrust upon her is absolutely damaging and would likely cause her to sink deeper into herself when the person she loves abuses her trust. The fact she’s not aware of or consented to any of what occurs to her, something which is terrifying enough for her to relieve and confront past trauma, only to find her rescuer was in on it, is quite disgusting. Leon does it out of love in the hope of breaking the fear that consumes her but all the scenes leading up to this show him as being quite self-centred and bothered about what his friends think of him, as he suggests they think he’s a wife-beater due to her extreme, distressed reaction to being touched. Whilst you can understand facing her past trauma and confronting past memories will help to move on from them, I’d imagine it would be more productive in a controlled environment with consent rather than the sneaky method used here. To put it bluntly, I’d have packed his clothes in a bin bag and launched them out the window.
Sam Dunning plays imposing ‘boiler repair man’ Michael with such sleazy ease. He doesn’t say too much but has full control of the room and house he’s occupying as Amelia Eve’s Nicola shrinks into a corner in an attempt to escape what she can sense is a situation turning sinister. We truly feel for her character as she appears to battle on a daily basis her phobia which is holding her back and she attempts to reach out to Leon for him to understand, but does he truly realise what she’s gone through? Amelia Eve puts her all in presenting this delicate young woman who’s forced into a corner with the option of fight or flight. She’s tougher than she thinks but this minor breakthrough would likely have repercussions.
The presentation of the short film, with it’s jarring editing and strange use of sound effects, could be better in order to get its point across. However, I did enjoy some select shots like the close-ups of the handover of the glass of juice and Michael’s boot as he stepped closer to his victim. It would also have been great to watch with subtitles being optional rather than hardcoded as this drew my attention away from the visual performances of the cast at times, and was a bit of a distraction though I understand they have included subtitles to be as accessible as possible. The performances in the film are a mixed bag but Eve’s lead performance shines through as she tackles the range of emotions required by the character of Nicola. Even as the credits roll, you wonder how the rest of the final scene might go…