Tribeca – ‘Keep the Change’ — All Over the Spectrum

The Best Comedy at Tribeca, and One of the Best Films

Keep the Change

dir. Rachel Israel, USA, 2017, 88 minutes

One of the most noteworthy films at Tribeca was performed by non-professionals, to put it mildly. Keep the Change, a comedy, had a cast from all over the autistic spectrum. It’s coming to a theater near you, if you’re lucky.

Love at Group Therapy

Love at Group Therapy

You won’t know any of the actors in Keep the Change, the new comedy and a debut feature directed by Rachel Israel. But you won’t forget them after you see this odd love story.

It starts as David, a rich kid with an attitude (and with autism) is sent to a group of young people from all over the spectrum that meets at the Jewish Community Center on the West Side of Manhattan. David is addicted to corny jokes. I’ll only tell you one of them. Why did the bum vote for Obama? Give up? Because he wanted change.

Redefining the Screwball Comedy

Redefining the Screwball Comedy

There are plenty more like that in Keep the Change, which follows David into a group of young people more or less like himself. There’s conflict, love – yes, David falls in love. There’s even sex, and lots of talk about it, as this odd group confronts a world that doesn’t welcome them most of the time, and talks about that.  There’s even a play within a play, as autistic kids rehearse a show. It is New York, after all.

You will laugh, I can guarantee that, but part of the humor is the almost complete absence of irony from anyone in that group – except David of course. Truth, as it confronts ways of shaping the truth, is where the humor lies here.

Keep the Change is refreshing. It’s charming. It’s also anything but cautious or politically correct, about a subject that many will walk around delicately. They shouldn’t.

I’m not going to tell the Monica Lewinsky joke. I’ll let you hear it yourselves.

It also not a perfect film, but at a time when so many filmmakers fall into the same formulas, including formulas about autism now, this film and filmmaker are giving us something new.

Another encouraging thing about Keep the Change is that it is sure to travel. It may even outlive its worst jokes.

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