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Many might think themselves stuck in a rut, feeling letdown by the choices they’ve made, even if they might have what other’s consider the best in life. Change is one of those things in everyone’s path that is sometimes the hardest choice to make, but what do you do when the choice is made for you? With Keep In Touch, the possiblity and consequences of change are always present, and always impactful.
Colin Glennon (Ryan Patrick Bachand) is man in a personal crisis. We meet him first in a group counseling session while in prison, listening to a psychiatrist (Reggie Watts) lecturing the stoic men on the virtues of self reflection and finding the value in the right path. We won’t learn until later why Colin is there, but not long after, he’s now on parole, working for his cousin at a large tree nursery while trying to put his life together. He had a fiancée who now lingers in the peripheral but their relationship is unsettled.
One day, he learns that a girl he dated in school died in a car accident. She was his first love, a girl with whom he has long felt something unfulfilled. Touched by the news of her loss, despite the years that have separated them, he looks her up on the internet and learns she has a younger sister named Jessie (Gabbi McPhee), who looks a lot like her. She is a singer in the city now and so he tracks her down and watches her perform. And then again, slowly seemingly becoming obsessed with her. She of course notices, and sensing his harmlessness, becomes attracted. Before he can explain who he is, they are in a sexual relationship. But all secrets have their way of breaking from the dark.
Directed by Sam Kretchmar, Keep In Touch is an extraordinarily personal film that balances delicately on a very thin line, one that could have easily toppled under the slightest weight if mishandled. Change is the underlining theme and one that is both treated with ever-so precious subtlety and also traumatic blunt force, with Colin journeyed through a small odyssey that sees him grow with rounded corners. It is not a trite nor shallow experience, and not all things find their way clear for him, but it is deeply sincere, and honesty at this level and in this genre is something to be celebrated. Keep In Touch is that good.
What makes Colin so effective as a character is his placidity, his ability to endear as he fumbles and copes, making choices we might not side with entirely, but sympathize with as they blossom. Certainly, with the film’s use (and perhaps overuse) of Watts, we get the message that change is a good thing, even if there are roadblocks along the way. Much of that is inherent already in Colin’s arc, even without the doctor’s admittedly inspiring platitudes. But that is hardly a blemish. We are so drawn to Colin as a person, we can’t help but attach ourselves to his plight.
Thank goodness for Jessie then, with McPhee (in her film debut) creating a genuine, young, female character that isn’t here to save Colin, but rather anchor him. Jessie is fiercely independent and yet clearly affected by the loss of her sister despite her young age when it happened. There is a hollowness to her that becomes obvious as time passes and she has such presence in the finality of the story. We also meet her father (Peter Friedman), an artist who has spent the years since the accident–that also took his wife–creating beautiful works in their memory. He is not a minor character though, even if he has little screen time. There is a moment with him and Colin toward the end that is especially raw and beautifully handled.
That is where Kretchmar does his best in Keep In Touch, making moments feel like they should be one thing but are in fact about something else. Be it the larger lesson we as an audience must glean from the value of Colin’s efforts to properly grow tomatoes, to a brutally emotional scene when he faces a man that is reason why he first went to jail, these are moments Kretchmar trusts us to handle and that is a rare thing. While popular movies far too often hold our hands and layer stories in exposition or narration, it is intelligent filmmakers behind films like this that prove movies can still challenge and be effective.
Read our exclusive interview with Director Sam Kretchmar as he discusses the making of this film.
Director: Sam Kretchmar
Writers: Michael Angelo Covino, Sam Kretchmar
Stars: Ryan Patrick Bachand, Gabbi McPhee, Nicholas Boshier, Jon Clinkenbeard, Reggie Watts, Jill Eikenberry