Restless (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner21/10/2011

One out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Derivative, irritatingly pretentious drama from Gus Van Sant that completely fails to ring true, thanks to a dismal script, annoying characters, wishy-washy direction and a subplot so jaw-droppingly tasteless that you wonder if the film's actually meant to be a black comedy. (It isn't).

What's it all about?
Directed by Gus Van Sant, Restless stars Henry Hopper (son of Dennis, and it shows) as Enoch, a death-obsessed teenager who's dealing with the loss of his parents by spending all his time chatting to the ghost of a kamikaze pilot (Ryo Kase as Hiroshi) and gate-crashing strangers' funerals. At one such funeral he meets the quirky Annabel (Mia Wasiskowska) and the pair begin a tentative relationship, only for Annabel to reveal that she has terminal cancer.

The Bad
The self-consciously quirky script is painfully derivative, stealing all its ideas from much better films (e.g. the funeral crashing is straight out of Harold and Maude), while the forced-sounding dialogue repeatedly throws up cringe inducingly dreadful lines such as, “I wish I could do more, like take you to the Galapagos” (which is a shame, because the one commendable moment in the film is Annabel's impassioned speech about Darwin). Even the film's achingly hip soundtrack choices are specifically chosen to evoke other films – it's impossible to hear Nico's The Fairest of the Seasons without thinking of The Royal Tenenbaums, for example.

Wasikowska does her best under the circumstances, but Hopper is both bland and annoying as Enoch and there's zero chemistry between them. On top of that, the film wastes talented performers like Jane Adams (as Enoch's aunt) and Schuyler Fisk (appealing but underwritten as Annabel's protective sister), while Kase is lumbered with an extraordinarily tasteless backstory (capped by entirely unnecessary footage of Nagasaki) that's borderline offensive.

The Worse
The film's biggest problem is that it completely fails to ring true, not least because Annabel appears to be the world's healthiest terminal cancer patient. There's also very little in the way of actual plot, since most of the action involves Enoch and Annabel wandering around and spouting their increasingly tedious dialogue – as a result, the pacing quickly slows to a crawl and never really recovers.

Worth seeing?
Badly written, poorly judged and painfully pretentious, Restless is a disappointing drama that fails to engage on an emotional level. Rent Harold and Maude instead.

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Content updated: 21/08/2019 11:57

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