Full Body Massage Film Details
Overview: A successful but world-weary art dealer finds out that her usual masseur has sent a substitute for her regular weekly massage at her home. They find that they are both mutually attracted, and annoy one another a great deal.
Tagline: Feelings and desire that go beyond the physical.
Review: N.B.: Spoilers within. Nicholas Roeg’s “Full Body Massage” belongs in the Talk Flick category, but with a twist. (I’ll get to that.) Nina (Mimi Rogers) is visited by a substitute masseur, Fitch (Bryan Brown), and during their session they gab on endlessly. The movie centers on one long conversation about art, spirituality, relationships, destiny, ancient healing methods, and other assorted riddles of life which might as well take place between two people on a road trip, or sipping their lattes. But….. The two main characters are a study in opposites. Nina, a product of very humble origins, has worked her way up to become a highly successful art gallery owner. Fitch, on the other hand, was born into affluence but has spent his whole adult life fleeing from it. Nina tends to gravitate toward the more personal during the massage. Early on she claims not to over-intellectualize, but rely on intuition. Fitch remains aloof in comparison. Yes, he is full of innumerable “truths,” but keeps the truth about his own self effectively hidden. We rarely get a straightforward answer out of him. He spouts on and on about Hopi tribal medicine, which is fine, but in this film the character of Fitch is sorely lacking a sense of humor. I kept wanting him to lighten up already. The twist I speak of constitutes the only brand of tension, curious as it is, in the film: reams of rational discourse versus the massage’s very sensuous physical contact…a lot of it. (Part of Nina’s and Fitch’s early conversation refers to the sensuous. Nina: “Massage is sexual…very sexual.” Fitch: “Can be, doesn’t have to be, shouldn’t always be…”) This tension is embodied by the mostly brainy discussion and its cool delivery taking place while the camera lovingly and sumptuously dotes on every inch of Nina’s oily flesh with Fitch’s expert hands manipulating it. An example (one of many like it): at one point the two characters are literally cheek to cheek in physical proximity, with Fitch rubbing away, while they talk about a “bankruptcy of the spirit.” Huh? Numerous flashbacks in both leads’ minds fill in sporadic details about their pasts, especially their most recent relationships. Fitch’s loving memories of Alice, who turned him on to the Hopi teachings he is so fond of, show us that at least he had a warm and sexy side to him at one time. (Here he is actually caught smiling.) But Alice’s tragic death in an accident appears to have shut the door to his emotions permanently. If there is such a thing as cerebral sensuality, this film attempts to capture it. For me it was difficult to mesh the two elements. You have an afternoon full of highbrow chit chat competing with a nonstop visual diet of Mimi Rogers’ nude, lushly stroked body. Most of us would be waiting for some real sexuality to bubble to the surface, but don’t hold your breath. Toward the end of the film, Nina makes an attempt to show that the pair is closer in spirit than they may realize (something having to do with each of their pasts making up much of who they are now). Whatever… When we first met her, Nina was saddled with a vague ennui, and her encounter with Fitch seems to have lifted it a bit. It’s hard to tell…the whole film is drenched in laid-back understatement. For his part, Fitch as he drives off into the sunset makes a gesture indicating he has moved on from Alice. Is there hope for these two independent spirits? The film leaves that question open. Personally I didn’t find the dialog itself quite as odd as the “fleshed out” characters who spoke it and the angular way they interacted.
Duration: 93 min
Also known as: El masaje,Цялостен масаж,Полный массаж тела,Το Μασάζ,Full Body Massage,Il massaggio dell’anima,Masaz calego ciala,Testmasszázs,Massage e Kamel e Badan