Keep the Change

KEEP THE CHANGE,  US, 2017. Starring Brandon Polansky, Samantha Elisofon, Jessica Walter, Jonathan Tchaikovsky. Directed by Rachel Israel. 94 minutes. Rated M (Coarse language).

A New York story, combining the familiar, the wealthy self-confident family, along with the unfamiliar, a course for young adults with a variety of disabilities.

The focus is on David, a young man, from the wealthy background, an only child, spoilt by his doting mother who is also controlling and his more genial laid-back father. He has been required to go to this course and is seen being driven by the family chauffeur. At the course, one of the participants he encounters is a very talkative Sarah, enthusiastic about many aspects of the course, partnered with David for a project (the supervisor hoping to get David involved instead of playing with his phone).

This seems an unlikely partnership, audiences probably feeling rather critical towards David and his seemingly arrogant attitudes, but feeling rather sympathetic towards Sarah although probably thinking that they would find it very hard to go out with her and experience her continual enthusiastic chatter.

It emerges that the course is for those with a variety of disabilities. David’s is not immediately evident although he does have peculiar mannerisms, a facial tic which is disguises as a sneeze. Sarah is more obvious and very quickly explains to David that she is autistic and has learning disabilities.

David has felt the need for relationships with women and is a constant devotee of online dating – and we see him on one of the dates which concludes almost instantly, the woman walking away.

But, probably to our great surprise, David forms something of an affection for Sarah, especially when they have to go to the Brooklyn Bridge and write a report of their visit, she always broming with enthusiasm.

On the whole, this is a very gentle story about two needy people, autistic men and women dealing with their disabilities, forming bonds, David taking Sarah home to his disbelieving mother, Sarah, always full of life, becoming very hurt when David seems to neglect her. He has an actor cousin who shows an immediate awareness of Sarah and her needs, something of a relief to the audience that there are people who are sensitive.

How can this develop? What are the challenges in terms of personality, abilities and disabilities, affirmation of personalities, love and sexuality, hurt and possibilities for reconciliation? The only answer to these questions is that audiences should go and see – and find this brief film with its unexpected focus rather rewarding.

JIFF                                 Released August 23rd

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.