A plot synopsis of “Comforting Skin” might sound like a comedy — and what appears onscreen certainly will elicit derisive giggles and snarky comments during the pic’s more over-the-top melodramatic sequences. But Victoria Bidewell earns respect with her seriously sincere and altogether fearless portrayal of a self-deprecating twentysomething who gains fresh confidence and savors sensual delights when her new tattoo begins to slither across her body while sympathetically conversing with her. Derek Franson’s shot-in-Vancouver indie appears destined for homevid and VOD playoff, but a brighter future may await its star.After undergoing rehab and breaking up with an older and unsavory boyfriend, Koffie (Bidewell) yearns to find love. After repeatedly striking out in bars, however, she’s in a sufficiently fragile mental state to appreciate (or imagine) the blandishments of her increasingly possessive tattoo. Bidewell gets fine support from Tygh Runyan as her sociophobic roommate, and Jane Sowerby as a party-hearty neighbor, but it’s mostly up to her to carry this low-voltage erotic thriller through some downright silly stretches. Sharp production values belie a reportedly small budget.
A Brainstorm Prods. production in association with Confidence Kid, Feelgood Pictures, Anonymous Films and Conovision Prods./JCA Communications, with the participation of Telefilm Canada. Produced by Justin James, Andrew Webster, Derek Franson. Executive producers, Jim Conrad, Marshall James, Michael Emmott, Mark Glover Masterson, Nadia Manshadi, Tony Ali. Directed, written by Derek Franson.
Camera (color), Adam Sliwinski; editor, Lenka Svab; music, Alain Mayrand; production designer, Elena Dubova; set decorator, Elena Dubova; costume designer, Tanya Lipke. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Jan. 25, 2012. (In Slamdance Film Festival.) Running time: 109 MIN.
Victoria Bidewell, Tygh Runyan, Jane Sowerby, Phil Granger.