Neurodivergence is the new queerness. As they once did for movies about LGBT people, film distributors now bend over backward to avoid mentioning that their romantic leads are on the spectrum. And it’s a shame, because very good movies about people in love who aren’t neurotypical — such as last year’s quasi-documentary Dina and now Rachel Israel’s narrative romance Keep the Change, which stars actors on the spectrum — are being treated like their characters are shameful secrets. (Curiously, the documentary Off the Rails’s marketing was open about its subject having been diagnosed with Asperger’s, but then again, there was no scary romantic element.)
David (Brandon Polansky) is a wealthy New Yorker who meets Sarah (Samantha Eliofson) in an autism support group. Sarah is as extroverted and vivacious as David is introverted and sullen, and in many ways their ensuing romance — some eugenicists would say “forbidden” — is typical of any other romantic comedy in which New York City is also a character. But it’s also very atypical because we rarely get to see people like this onscreen, and Israel’s affection for her cast never feels exploitative. But f’reals, marketers: If your characters are on the spectrum, tell us so. The neurotypical can handle it, and the neurodivergent deserve better than to be treated like a bait-and-switch.
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.