Cuddle Buddy by Max Barbakow

A depressed woman comes to terms with her own vulnerability when she hires a professional cuddler on Christmas Eve.

Filmmaker Max Barbakow tells the story Regina, a woman who hires a professional cuddler in hopes of alleviating her loneliness.

It’s Christmas Eve. Regina wakes up in a sad mood. She mulls around, sitting on her bed and the toilet. Then, there’s a buzz at the door — it’s Clara, a professional cuddler.

Clara upbeat and chatty. She walks in and compliments the apartment and gets right down to work. She goes over some book choices to read to Regina, then asks what cuddle position she prefers — the bottom. Regina asks her to turn off the Christmas-light necklace and gets into position.

As Clara slowly lowers her body atop Regina, she tells her to take deep breaths. Then, she asks for permission to put her head on the shoulder. But when she goes to hug, Regina jumps up in a panic. She’s uncomfortable.

Clara says she can go slower, but Regina insists it isn’t working.

Clara tries to give other suggestions, like just chatting, but Regina wants the session over. Clara asks if she did anything to upset her, but Regina stays silent.

When Clara suggests moving to the bed, Regina takes it the wrong way and storms out.

She goes to the other room and sits on the bed. Clara stays outside the doorway and asks again if Regina would like a hug. She tells Clara to charge her for the full session and to leave. And Clara begins to gather her things.

Clara then asks Regina to take a questionnaire. Regina is frustrated and raises her voice, telling Clara she’ll just sign the bottom and let her fill out the rest.

Clara declines and tells her she’s proud of what she does and she’s a good cuddler and listener. Then, she apologizes to Regina for whatever pain that she’s going through. Regina breaks down in tears.

Clara slowly walks into the bedroom and sits next to her.

Regina then asks if she can lay down with her for a moment.

As they lay side-by-side, Clara reaches a hand out. Regina places hers next to Clara’s and they hold hands in silence.

Intimacy is scary. In a world where our lives are increasingly public and under scrutiny, basic vulnerability has become an intimidating concept. The film hopes to inspire a generation of people to slow down, breath in, and dare to connect.




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