Retro Review: Keith

Keith is a delightful little indie teen drama.

Based on the short story by Ron Carlson, Keith focuses popular girl Natalie (Elisabeth Harnois) as starts prepping for college. She has a tennis scholarship worked out, top of her class and is in love with the hottest guy at school, Raff. She has the world waiting to see what school she will attend. If her father has anything to say about it the school will be Duke.

In school, Natalie is assigned a new lab partner named Keith (Jesse McCartney). He is not your average lab partner. He’s charimatic, mysterious, interesting and annoying. All those traits don’t excite Natalie at first until he finds a way to get into her life. Sure they study the projects assigned in science class but Keith injects himself into her life and asks her to do some silly things too like leave bowling balls on people’s front steps and help rebuild his classic truck.

As the movie goes along it is quite a tender story full of the typical teen angst, popularity and parental conflict. But what puts it all together is that Keith is also hiding a deep dark secret.

Elisabeth Harnois is always quite good. She seems to go up another level with this movie though. She lets us see both sides of Natalie and  has an interesting dynamic to work with when confronted by the rebellious nature of Keith. The chemistry between Harnois and McCartney is also quite tender, interesting and well, conflicted at times especially in the many times she debates his choices. But I do have to say that Jesse McCartney steals the movie from Harnois and so he should since the movie is called Keith. But he just has this ability to be dispicable one minute and a total sweetheart the next. You can see why Natalie is so taken by him but that is offly hard to pull off for an actor. I really liked this character of Keith and how he was hero and villain all at the same time and in almost the same moment.

The film does run into problems in the third act when Keith’s secret is revealed but not only in the story but also in how the film was put together. There is one scene where Natalie confronts Keith about his secret and the scene is shot from two angles. In one angle, Keith has his school bag over his shoulder and the other angle there is no school bag. For such a pivotal scene, I found that aspect quite distracting. After that scene we also see some scenes that look like they were added later and dont mesh well with the final product. In other words, the flow seems messed up.

But I think the film overcomes its obivious flaws by the powerful performances from the two leads. Keith is quite fun little movie and a gem if you can find it.

3.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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