Two autistic adults strike up a transformative relationship in Rachel Israel’s charming comedy, based on the romantic adventures of her unlikely star.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
In this funny, affecting and refreshingly authentic New York romcom the happy pair – and the non-professional actors who play them – are autistic. David, played by Brandon Polansky, on whose experience the film is based, has long been sheltered by his wealthy parents. Whether his habit of letting chauffeurs keep the change is a matter of noblesse oblige or a lack of arithmetic skill is a moot point. Equipped with a repertoire of deeply inappropriate jokes for every occasion, he is ordered to attend an autism support group after one pig reference too many to a police officer. His contempt for this group of ‘weirdos’ is total, not least for the super-chirpy Sarah who buses in daily from Queens – and has a song for every occasion. Sparks begin to fly, however, when the easily smitten young woman declares she finds him “really smoking hot and so sexy.”
But can her cheerfulness withstand the streak of scorn he’s clearly absorbed from a lifetime of tolerant disdain from his mother (Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter)? Played with such directness, the familiar romcom setbacks feel clean and unforced, and Rachel Israel’s direction is imbued with unmistakable empathy and good humour.
“When Rachel Israel set out to make a feature film based on a longtime friend, who has autism… casting the lead role was easy. The only person she could imagine playing her friend, Brandon Polansky, was himself. Casting a woman to play his love interest, though, proved a much greater challenge. Israel auditioned roughly 100 professional actors, but nobody fit until Israel shifted tactics and cast a co-star who was also on the spectrum. Israel cast two more actors with autism in supporting roles and worked with all four of them until she had something truly unique – a story in which the characters with autism drive all the action…
The story is based on Polansky’s first serious romantic relationship, which happened to end shortly before filming began. ‘It was so painful to make something about a love story that no longer existed,’ he recalled. But it was worth it, he said, ‘to paint this beautiful picture of how we really are.’” — Molly Redden, The Guardian