Autism Through Cinema

Keep the Change (2017) dir. Rachel Israel

September 17, 2021

We've addressed concerns in past episodes about autistic characters being portrayed by non-autistic actors. Well here, with Rachel Israel's romantic drama Keep the Change, we get the opportunity to enjoy a film with a predominantly autistic cast. Brandon Polansky plays David, an aspiring filmmaker whose life takes an unexpected turn when he's assigned a partner from his Community Centre workshop in the form of the vivacious and energetic Sarah, played by Samantha Elisofon. We find the presence of non-professional autistic actors to be a refreshing and exciting change from the norm, while also delighting in the representation of autistic individuals as deeply emotional and romantic. There were some concerns about how we were supposed to relate to David as a character who makes a number of distasteful decisions, but we were utterly charmed by his beau, Sarah, played with such energy and verve by Elisofon. We consider the representation of learning difficulties in relation to Sarah's misunderstanding of jokes, as well as the exploration of autism in relation to gender.

Keep the Change is being screened as part of our Autism and Cinema season on Tuesday 28th September at 6pm. There will be a talk hosted by Steven Eastwood and the Neurocultures Collective afterwards, and tickets are still available on the Barbican website:

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On this episode you hear David Hartley, Janet Harbord, Georgia Bradburn and Alex Widdowson


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