A representation of reality with which too few of us are familiar, Rachel Israel’s Keep the Change is a beautiful, earnest depiction of blossoming love. In miniature format, and with an unconventional choice in protagonists, Israel crafts an emotional sculpture on the screen, not merely a flat rendering of romantic tropes but a complex, surprising rendering of these tropes turned on their head. Two members of a group for mentally disabled people discover an affection for one another over the course of a day that takes both through a series of unexpected situations – an affection that startles them as much as it perplexes us on initial examination.
But there’s a true sense of honesty in Keep the Change’s presentation of difficulty that ironically makes it so much simpler for the audience to relate. Israel finds universality in specificity, without sacrificing the essential uniqueness of her characters. And for those among us acquainted with the trials of making sincere connections when we ourselves are similarly unique, she shows us something genuinely real, genuinely familiar.