New York City is the rom-com capital of the movie world, and it’s rare to watch a cinematic love story set in the metropolis that we haven’t seen before. But writer-director Rachel Israel’s debut, “Keep the Change,” manages to make romance in the city feel fresh, while still using tropes of the genre. By making her lead lovers autistic and by casting autistic actors, she creates a film that feels more authentic in the process.
When David (Brandon Polansky) is forced to attend a social group for people with autism, he feels out of place among the other attendees. He’s slick and enjoys telling dirty jokes, but is bored by the others, begging his parents (Jessica Walter and Tibor Feldman) to stop going. However, as he spends more time there with Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), he begins to fall for her sweet, outgoing spirit.
Using nonprofessional actors means Israel’s film doesn’t feel polished — but that’s OK. This is a tender, generous movie that likes its characters and presents them as real people, full of flaws and strengths.
“Keep the Change” isn’t a film for cynics, but romantics will find plenty to warm their hearts here. David and Sarah’s story is a new take on love in the city, but also a reminder that the relationships of people with autism aren’t that different from the ones we’ve been swooning over for decades.
‘Keep the Change’
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Royal West L.A.; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino