Starring: Elisabeth Harnois, Jesse McCartney, Margo Harshman
Director: Todd Kessler
Running Time: 97 mins
Keith is an American film about a teenage girl living the high life: on the verge of getting into a top university, with a hopeful future as a tennis player and with a whole lot of friends. However, when she falls in love with the enigmatic Keith, her world slowly begins to unravel.
This is a very intelligent, well-played and genuinely deep and emotional romance drama that really hits you at your core. With two great central performances, a tender but rarely cheesy love story and an often beautiful score/soundtrack, this film is hugely engrossing, and will stick with you for a long time after it finishes due to an amazingly heart-wrenching final act.
I’ll start with the most impressive thing about this film, which is how it plays its genre so well and subverts everything you expect. Now, it’s a teenage love story about a girl who falls in love with an unusual boy (sounds a bit like Twilight), but the romance depicted here is never cheesy or shallow, but so emotional and beautiful to watch unfold.
Basically, the film knows that you as a viewer know how a generic romance story unfolds, and whilst it does stick to the formula for the most part, it’s the secondary level of emotion and constant heartbreak that’s the most intelligent and original thing about this film. I’d liken it to something like Flipped, but with a much heavier-going plot, because it takes the generic teenage romance story and adds a great depth of emotion that contributes highly to the overall success and effectiveness of the relationship that develops on screen.
The other thing about this film is that it does manage to surprise you and really hit you where it hurts with some of the more dramatic parts of the story. Whilst the first two acts are just a brilliant love story, the final act takes a very dark turn, a turn that would normally seem cheesy and unconvincing, but here, it fits in so well with the two main characters that it hits you so hard when it’s all explained, and that made for one of the most powerfully heart-wrenching romances I’ve ever seen.
Now, the characters are the one part of this film that prevented me from loving it. The girl, Natalie, is a brilliantly interesting and believable character, and her transformation from social queen to a more independent woman is very effective and convincing, and that’s just another example of how well this film manages to subvert romantic clichés.
However, the main guy, Keith, was my biggest problem with the whole film. The actor who portrays him, Jesse McCartney, was fantastic, and pulled off the character very well, but I found him very unlikeable for the majority of the movie. Basically, the film starts off with him saying that he fancies this girl and says that instead of asking her out, he’ll ‘have some fun with her’. Now, for the remainder of the film, as this girl’s life begins to be turned totally upside down, I felt a real anger towards him for seemingly manipulating this girl for his own amusement/gain, and although there is an explanation for it all at the end, it was quite unpleasant to see it develop throughout.
Overall, this gets a 7.9, because of its brilliant originality and success in subverting the genre to make a hugely powerful romance story, however it just falls down due to a pretty horrid main character.