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Sam Kretchmar’s debut feature Keep in Touch concerns a recently released ex-con who embarks on a new relationship forged on deceit. Featuring a terrific performance by Ryan Patrick Bachand — underplaying to superb effect in the central role — the pic offers enough quirkily interesting, offbeat moments to sustain interest despite its familiar-feeling aspects.
Bachand, whose only previous big-screen credit is 2004’s Imaginary Heroes, plays Colin, newly freed after serving a prison sentence for a near-fatal hit-and-run accident. Returning to his small Connecticut hometown, he takes a job working at a tree nursery owned by his boorish, foul-mouthed cousin Brad (played by co-screenwriter Michael Angelo Covino).
Desperate for emotional connection since his break-up with his longtime girlfriend, Colin tries to track down his high school sweetheart, only to discover that she was killed in a car accident. But when he sees a picture of her younger sister Jessie (Gabbi McPhee) — now all grown up and looking very much like her deceased sibling — Colin arranges for a “spontaneous” meeting at the Brooklyn coffeehouse where she sings, breaking his parole in the process. The two soon become romantically involved, with Colin not telling her of his past association with her sister. Needless to say, he’s unable to maintain the deception for very long.
Despite his fondness for participating in Fight Club-style organized brawls, Colin remains mostly passive even as he’s besieged on all sides. Bachand’s appealing, deadpan comic performance provides some of the film’s most amusing moments, such as when Colin is questioned by a quizzical policeman upon being discovered walking through the frigid streets of Brooklyn, clad only in his underwear, after having been forced to flee Jessie’s apartment when her boyfriend arrived unannounced.
The film isn’t always convincing in its details, and the frequent use of flashbacks slows down its narrative momentum. The romantic subplot doesn’t convey much heat, with McPhee, a talented singer/songwriter performing her own music, failing to sufficiently make us care about her character. The supporting cast, including such veterans as Peter Friedman and Jill Eikenberry, provide solid support, with Reggie Watts showing up periodically as a motivational speaker.
Despite its imperfections, however, Keep in Touch is intriguing enough to make us want to keep in touch with its tyro director, and particularly its talented leading man.
Production companies: Gilda Films, Unbundled Underground
Cast: Ryan Patrick Bachand, Gabbi McPhee, Michael Angelo Covino, Reggie Watts
Director: Sam Kretchmar
Screenwriters: Sam Kretchmar, Michael Angelo Covino
Producers: Amelia Covino, Michael Angelo Covino, Rachel Dengiz
Executive producers: Sam Kretchmar, Gilda Moratti
Production designer: Kyle Marvin
Editor: Ida Rodriguez Joglar
Composer: Ali Helnwein
Casting: Judy Henderson
Not rated, 105 minutes
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