Where Hands Touch is an emotional coming-of-age film written and directed by Amma Asante. This one hour and twenty-two-minute romantic drama based on the events of the second world war in 1944 Germany leaves the viewer feeling a roller coaster of emotion throughout. What makes this story stand out amongst the rest in the Historical genre is the fact that it follows a young biracial girl, Lenya (played by Amandla Stenberg) struggling to find her place as a normal teen girl in a quickly changing and scary racist world.
Where Hands Touch gives us a look into another dark side of Nazi Germany that we were never taught about in school. When most of us think of Hitler’s reign of genocide, we imagine the eradication of the Jewish population, but our education didn’t allow us to explore much further than that. This movie gives us a look into that tucked-away knowledge and allows us to explore a uniquely haunting point of view about what a biracial family had to endure during the time period and all of the sneaky things they had to do just to survive the day.
Where Hands Touch has been Rated R, and for good reason too. There is a lot of cringe-worthy ignorance and hate speech thrown around that can be a little hard to take in as a viewer. There are a lot of moments that make you want to curl up in a ball and cry with Leyna or punch the arrogant person through the screen. It is hard not to get pulled into the emotions of the protagonist and really feel for what she and thousands of others went through. Things such as segregation from schools, swimming pools, beaches, restaurants, restrooms and countless of other public places; we see how women of colour were forced into sterilization too, just to ensure that they could never mate with a white German man. We get a glimpse into all of the darkness and it’s not an easy thing to sit through… but that is the point. Where Hands Touch is meant to make us feel things, examine how we treat others and teaches us to practice compassion for all people.
The story does have a romantic twist that leaves the heart enjoying a bit of light relief at times thanks to Leyna’s love interest, Lutz, played by George MacKay. Lutz is a kindred spirit who has been forced into the duty of Hitler Youth like all of his other peers. The judgment of others doesn’t stop him from throwing away his benevolent attitude and he gives all of his free time to Leyna, despite the disapproval from those all around them.
Both Leyna and Lutz find themselves in a twisted Romeo and Juliet situation, the star-crossed lovers who are not allowed to see each other, but always find a way.
As the movie progresses, we see more and more daily torture Leyna and her family had to face. We see abuse from friends, strangers and authority figures alike. We see families being torn apart, people being humiliated in the public streets for “fun”, leading up to Leyna herself being taken away to a labor camp.
The horrors of the concentration camp show how quickly a fiery and passionate spirit can be broken. The living conditions that those poor people had to endure, the pain, the suffering, the disease, and the human ash that covers the ground like snow all hit this viewer right in the feels.
Where Hands Touch can be a difficult film to watch, but it is also a necessary one to watch in order to really shed the light on the grey areas of history we were never taught about in school. Regardless of the context that is hard to sit through at times, we can’t forget that moments like this existed too. It is an emotionally excellent watch that definitely deserves to be checked out by everyone. It hits theaters as of September 14th, 2018.
Watch the official trailer below.