By Daniel Barnes
*Opens Friday, March 23, at the Roxie Theater in SF.
Writer-director Israel makes her feature debut with this largely delightful romantic comedy. Keep the Change is an expansion of Israel’s 2013 short film starring the same lead actors.
Brandon Polansky plays David, an acerbic autistic man who thinks he’s too cool for his court-mandated support group, at least until a talkative ball of sunshine named Sarah (the wonderful Samantha Elisofon) catches his eye.
The complex portrayal of autism – Sarah can’t quite comprehend David’s offensive jokes, yet she is by far the more sexually mature of the two – is refreshing, but apart from the milieu and the charisma of the cast, this is a fairly standard indie rom-com. Therefore, you’ve got the manic pixie dream girl, the sour jerk who falls for her, his bitch mother (Jessica Walter of Arrested Development, staying on-brand) who tries to break them apart, the perfunctory handheld camerawork, the NYC-is-like-a-character! cliche, and so on.
Occasionally, Keep the Change throws some curveballs. David is often extremely unlikeable, while his actor cousin, set up for the entire film as a potential asshole, turns out to be a decent guy when he finally appears. However, the film is still far less interesting and involving than last year’s similarly themed Dina.