★★ / ★★★★
At first, I thought this film was going to be a thriller because of the scene when Keith (Jesse McCartney) told someone his real intentions for befriending one of the most well-rounded and mature girls in school named Natalie (Elisabeth Harnois). Natalie seems to have everything going for her: great grades, intellectually curious, gregarious, athletic, and on the verge of getting into an Ivy League school. But then she meets Keith: a smart guy who is a bit rough around the edges who is unlike anyone in school. He’s actually interesting because he has substance but he does not boast his intellect on everyone’s faces. Natalie does not get along with Keith in the beginning; that is, up until she starts falling for him. I liked the powerplay between the two, which pervaded half of the picture. However, somewhere during the half-way point, it started falling apart because it spent too much of its time trying to conceal Keith’s secret. The mature Natalie became an immature, emo Natalie who actively risked her life and others’ just because she felt overwhelmed by everything going on around her, such as problems with her boyfriend, declining grades, and losing a potential scholarship. Keith’s secret was strangely fascinating to me. I had several theories ranging from him being a serial killer to an early CIA agent recruit. So when I ultimately found out his secret, I could not help but feel a bit underwhelmed because of the expectations that came with my (reasonable, at least in my mind) hypotheses. The second part of the film was chaotic to say the least. For about forty-five minutes or so, I felt like I was watching a bad teenage play and everyone happens to overact to every situation. It did not feel real and I felt repulsed by what was happening on screen. And the “lesson” of the film did not work for me on any level. Basically, the film justified (or tried to justify) Natalie throwing away everything she worked so hard for. That is not a good message at all to teenagers, especially when they should be encouraged to be the best they can be. Directed by Todd Kessler, “Keith” is pretty unoriginal but Jesse McCartney fans might be happy to see him show his acting abilities.