It is a beautiful day outside. All my friends are calling me on my cell, telling me that we’re going to go bowling tonight. And I cannot help but laugh at the irony. If you haven’t watched Keith yet, then it is completely okay not to understand what ‘irony’ I’m talking about here. If I manage to convince you to watch this, please do me a favor and watch it without reading anything about this. The official synopsis doesn’t even begin to daub at the intensity of the film’s loveliness.
Teenage drama with resonant thoughtfulness and profound fragility: am I joking? No. Keith is an astutely observant film which manages to ring authentic throughout its run-time with surprising vigor and vitality. If you consider all the films made so far to be high-school students, you may find Keith hanging out with a senior, probably a John Hughes film, taking notes for the ‘How to Be Amazing’ class.
Todd Kessler directs and captures the best of his actors with a fragile sensitivity. Somehow, the film walks the tightrope between being delicate but unsentimental. Based on a story by Ron Carlson, the script is weighty but not extravagant: a soulful bunch of pages in which Kessler and David Zabel pour out their heart. It is in movies like these where the word ‘pace’ is rendered obsolete; you drift, turn, drown and come up for breath with the flow. It feels delightful to have felt such an intimate connection with the characters without feeling manipulated. If Keith were a real person, I would’ve died trying to be his best friend.
Both Jesse McCarntey (Keith) and Elisabeth Harnois (Natalie) perform with natural ease, growing into the empty outlines of their respective characters and filling them with life. Their ‘lack of chemistry’, as their chemistry teacher jokes, is soon made up to a source of all the things you’re going to end up loving about the movie. Tree Adams’ wonderful background score goes very well with the bitter-sweet wit of the narrative. It is really difficult to write about the film’s awesomeness without giving anything away, so we’re not going to talk about it being a comedy or a tragedy. All you need to know is that Keith is out there waiting to win your heart.
Very strongly recommended. This is a joyful, buoyant celebration of life dressed up as a movie. Watch.