Keep The Change


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Keep The Change
"Polansky delivers a nuanced performances that mixes the discomfort of bungled jokes and inappropriate comments with endearingly obvious insecurity."

Everyone has heard the line about how, when trying to impress somebody cute, one should just be oneself - but what if that self is something society looks down on? David (Brandon Polansky) doesn't want people to know he's on the autistic spectrum. This makes being taken to a support group by his mother a distinctly uncomfortable experience, the more so because there's an attractive woman there (Samantha Elisofon's Sarah) who he'd like to get to know better. When he's paired with that woman to run an errand, he works hard to persuade her that he's rich and sophisticated, easily able to 'pass' as neurotypical. But what she values is something quite different: the confidence to accept being different.

Autism has been a popular subject in film in recent years, but characters on the spectrum are almost always 'high functioning' - just different enough to provide a plot point - and they're almost always played by neurotypical actors. Here that's not the case, and the result is something with a very different character - it's not a tour of a curious subject but simply a story about how two individuals live their lives. The actors also worked on some of the dialogue. This is at its most apparent in the use of repeated blunt statements to define the situations in which they find themselves. Sarah repeatedly states how attractive she thinks David is. Far from simplifying the dynamic between them, however, this highlights its complexities. Her forthrightness seems to do little to increase his self-assurance. She clearly finds him frustrating too, as it can be difficult enough for her to interpret people's intentions without the extra layer of pretense.

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Despite the context of its protagonists' encounter, Keep The Change is a universal story; it's simply more up-front about the awkward behaviours that often complicate what might otherwise be a sure thing. Polansky delivers a nuanced performances that mixes the discomfort of bungled jokes and inappropriate comments with endearingly obvious insecurity. There's a streak of anger underscoring David's behaviour that he doesn't seem to realise is directed at himself. As he gradually realises that winning Sarah's affections is going to require change, the two of them become less comfortable with each other, yet the odds of things working about between them seem better.

A shrewd look at an auspicious first encounter, this smart little film strips much of the romance out of romance to show us something more meaningful.

Reviewed on: 12 Jul 2015
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A young man tries to impress a woman he meets in an autism support group, while she tries to persuade him to stop trying to seem 'normal'.

Director: Rachel Israel

Writer: Rachel Israel

Starring: Brandon Polansky, Samantha Elisofon, Carol Polansky, Irene Longshore, Dorsey Massey

Year: 2013

Runtime: 16 minutes

Country: US


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