Overview: After a personal crisis, Colin Glennon finds himself revisiting his past and attempting to track down his childhood sweetheart. Finding out she died in a car accident many years earlier, he comes across her younger sister Jessie, resulting in unintentional romance and hard truths for the both of them. Unbundled Underground; 2015; Not Rated; 109 minutes.
Rebuilding: From the beginning of the film, it’s evident Colin Glennon (Ryan Patrick Bachand) has been in prison. For how long or for what reason, we initially don’t know. In those early scenes, Colin seems to be stripped of self-confidence with the brand of “ex-convict” hanging over his downtrodden frame. Ryan Patrick Bachand never overplays it, but his wistful, wounded looks and softspoken conversations with his fast-talking cousin portray a man questioning his entire being, as if he unexpectedly shattered one day, and is still left trying to glue together the shards of his former self. The film’s color palette and cinematography is a crucial part of the character development; the film splits its location between New York City and Connecticut, the latter being where Colin is instructed to stay in order to not violate his parole. Connecticut’s wintery landscapes are muted by scenic cold, emphasizing the dulled sadness lingering in the stillness of the nursery where Colin works, or in his deceased father’s home in which he now resides.
Can You Return to A Former Life: Colin’s time in prison has destroyed all of his old foundations. We find out that he moved back to his hometown, which inspires him to revisit his happier past. Digging into boxes of mementos, Colin finds love letters from his childhood sweetheart Annie, and in an effort to recapture that pure happiness he once felt, he pursues her – or rather, the memory of her. In a way, the pursuit of Annie is a vehicle in which Colin is given the chance to pursue a life he was never allowed to explore. In the blink of an eye, everything from his old life was erased. However, in the wake of the trauma, he is presented with a lack of foundation that allows him to discover what he truly desires. Though he finds that Annie passed away in a car accident years prior, he is led to her lookalike younger sister, the New York City based musician Jessie. The events that follow show Colin slowly learning who he is, shedding the context of his pre-crisis life and digging down to his own roots. Though he experiences pain and hurt, he is able to be renewed in the aftermath of a trauma, and in a way does not necessarily rebuild his life. He creates a new and more truthful one. Bachand’s portrayal of Colin is phenomenal; he says so much in his expressions without skewing towards the campy end of the indie drama spectrum. While watching the film, I was reminded of Ryan Gosling’s work in Half Nelson as well as The Place Beyond The Pines. Like Gosling, Bachand is able to show the full arc of a character’s evolution throughout the film without saying much dialogue at all.
Searching For Meaning: The link that all the characters in Keep In Touch share is the search for meaning, chasing down the answer to the everlasting question of personal purpose. Reggie Watts’s character, a self-help speaker named Dr. Harry Clark, serves as a kind of narrator to address these internal conflicts of the characters, first making an appearance in the prison where Colin was incarcerated and later at an Arbonne-esque conference. Just as Dr. Harry Clark’s words serve to outline the overarching themes of the narrative, Jessie’s (Gabbi McPhee) music is a tool that shows both Colin’s growth and Jessie’s own turmoil, reflecting each character’s emotional wounds that they must examine in order to find their purpose. McPhee’s original songs for Keep In Touch are raw and honest, though never heavy-handed in indicating the direction of the story, and give the film an added layer of reality.
Overall: Keep In Touch is primarily about a man finding who he is in the wake of a crisis, but it is also an excavation of past lives and the imprint they create when forging the path for a new one. Perhaps that is the answer that all humans are ultimately searching for – what does our past mean for our future?
Featured Image: Unbundled Underground