Keep The Change

****

Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

Keep The Change
"Keep The Change tells an intricate love story, featuring people we rarely get to see on the big screen"

Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature winner at this year's Tribeca Film Festival and winner of the Best Debut and FIPRESCI Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Keep the Change, directed and written by Rachel Israel, deftly brings us into the challenges a neurodivergent couple has with building face-to-face personal relationships in and out of their private worlds.

David (Brandon Polansky) is new to a group for people on the autism spectrum which he is court ordered to attend. There, at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) on New York's Upper West Side, he meets Sarah (Samantha Elisofon) who is outgoing and thrilled to be teamed up with the new guy in an exercise. He resents her enthusiasm and plays it cool with his Bono-inspired sunglasses and inappropriate jokes which Sarah incessantly urges him to explain.

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From drama therapy sessions to a dinner at an Italian restaurant with food orders gone awry, from a Coney Island stroll that uncovers one person's dread of sand and another's anxiety with carousels, to a musical showdown at a party given by David's parents Carrie (Jessica Walter) and Lenny (Tibor Feldman) in their fancy beachside house - Keep The Change tells an intricate love story, featuring people we rarely get to see on the big screen.

When the Brooklyn Bridge is suggested as topic of conversation, this requires some homework in Sarah's mind to complete the assignment. Relationships don't come easy if they are worth something and we see the two of them eventually confront each other and their own personal challenges.

Explanations for choices being made are given so candidly that the effect can be startling and disarming. During a "superhero exercise" for the group, David picks invisibility as his superpower because that would allow him to go into the ladies locker room. His womaniser persona can also go terribly astray, as it does during a very funny date David has in Central Park. Rape jokes are not a good idea on a first date! No matter who you are.

David needs a reality check for his modes of seduction. Like the Grimms' version of the Frog King - where the princess actually throws the frog against the wall instead of kissing him - Sarah provides some perspective. That's what he deserves, he transforms and then the relationship has a chance - for both of them. She tells him "Don't interrupt me," whereas she is interrupting him constantly.

Metaphor crawls in reluctantly. When David shows Sarah his film - a blend of home movies from childhood, prom date, graduation which culminates in footage of bombs going off - they have a discussion. We see a big fluffy toy snake behind them. Adam and Eve as the eternal return. A bus to grandma's house from the JCC is the only way Sarah finds home. Little Red Riding Hood tempted by the wolf might not be the proper tale here.

Israel leaves it to us to pick up on nuances while the human interactions shimmer with layers of desire in Keep The Change.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2017
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The unlikely love story of two people who meet in a support group.


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Keep The Change