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Restless tells the story of two controversial -but somehow the same-
teenage characters and their perspectives of dealing with death. Enoch
(Henry Hopper) has dropped out school and tries to cope and face his
fears by attending funerals. That's how he meets Annabel (Mia
Wasikowska), a girl with a terminal disease and a love for life and
nature. There's also the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze Hiroshi (Ryo
Kase), from WWII and it seems that he is a story inside the story of
this film. Sometimes you may think that his part is unnecessary in the
plot, although, in the end it turns out that he wasn't so much
irrelevant after all.
The film is not as morbid as you might think. There won't be any moment where your heart will feel heavy. Every scene is a walk-through towards realization and the art of getting familiar with the absolute fact such as death and the importance of love and the "now" moment.
The photography is soft and atmospheric and so is the music. Keep in mind that the director (Gus Van Sant) is the one who also directed Good Will Hunting, a brilliant movie. I first saw Mia Wasikowska in Alice in Wonderland, then in Jane Eyre and i believe she's one of the many talented young actresses that'll stand out in the industry. Henry Hopper on the other hand is the son of the late -and great- Dennis Hopper. His filmography is still in its early stages but he seems very promising.
This underrated film was released just before Christmas in Tokyo. As a
long time fun of the director, I enjoyed very much this beautiful film.
It appears to be an ordinary boy-meets-girl story with somewhat quirky
atmosphere, but inside I found the film is filled with homage to the
Among them, I remember the film "Cleo de 5 a 7" by Agnes Varda (1962), which includes discussions of mortality, despair and the meaning of life. I also felt the airs of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut. If you love the French films in 60s, I believe you will enjoy and appreciate it more.
The line by Hiroshi (the Ghost) summarizes the theme of this film.
"We have so little time to say any of the things we mean. We have so little time for any of it."
"Restless" is the story of a boy who is restless with the living side
of life and a girl, also restless with the living side of life since
she just wants to get on with her own impending death. Enoch (Henry
Hopper) is more interested in death since death claimed the lives of
his parents and the life he once knew. Annabel (Mia Wasikowska) is a
terminally ill cancer patient and instead of fighting her illness, is
content living her final days studying nature. Until they met each
It's a story of boy meets girl, if you will. Except, these are not conventional characters, so this is not a conventional love story. The son of Dennis Hopper looks like he just walked out of the Cleary Estate from "Wedding Crashers" (2005) as the misbegotten son with creepy obsessions. The problem with this type of character in a drama is that he isn't endearing enough and he certainly isn't there for us to laugh at. Annabel doesn't hold her own life with much respect either (not that she has much choice with her terminal illness and all) but either way it's hard for us to care about her all that much too.
The most sympathetic character was Elizabeth (Schuyler Fisk, daughter of Sissy Spacek), Annabel's sister, who has no father, an inept, alcoholic mother who would be better off dead, and a dying sister who is perfectly happy with the finality of her life. I felt bad for her. The next most sympathetic character was Hiroshi (Ryo Kase). He was a ghost. If the film is starting to sound a little odd, that's because it is.
I certainly applaud the film for creating such odd characters with odd responses to life as it goes on around them. But because the characters were so far removed from anything I know, it was a little hard to fully appreciate them. It's still interesting enough and well written for those craving a small, independent movie about life, love and death. Mostly death.
Gus Van Sant probably understands the minds of youngsters better than
any director around and he proves it again in this rhapsodic film about
loss and love and loss again. His cast is so well selected that they
seem to be an ensemble from a stage company, so well integrated are
their relationships in this beautiful film written by Jason Lew.
Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper, son of Dennis Hopper, and a very fine actor) survived a car accident in which his parents were killed: he remained in a coma and missed their funeral and the chance to in some way say goodbye. Living with his Aunt Mabel (Jane Adams), he now spends his days not attending school but instead going to strangers' funerals. One funeral organizer (Christopher D. Harder) notices his repeated appearances and tries to have him arrested for trespassing but he is saved by a strange girl named Annabel (Mia Wasikowska in a brilliant performance). Annabel also attends funerals: she tells Enoch that she works with children with cancer at a hospital. Enoch is wary of making friends - his only ally being a Japanese kamikaze pilot ghost Hiroshi Takahashi (Ryo Kase) with whom he talks about everything. But gradually Enoch and Annabel bond and Annabel reveals to Enoch that she doesn't work with 'cancer kids', she is one - she has brain cancer and is on short-term time. Annabel's sister Elizabeth (Schyler Fisk) and mother Rachel (Luisa Strus) accept Enoch's growing supportive love for Annabel. As Enoch grows form his experience with Annabel he no longer needs the presence of his ghost or his need for attending funerals and instead spends his time giving Annabel the best three months (remaining) of her life. How the story draws to an end is so enchanting that to share it would deprive the viewer of the magic of this film.
This is one of those perfect little films that glow in the heart. Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper create such memorable characters that once seen they will never be forgotten. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
I cannot tell you how much I adore this film. Restless is one of the
greatest movies ever made. It's simple, but it's complex. It's
confusing, yet it's still subtle. It's charming, dark, funny, romantic,
bold, and shy all at the same time. It's truly a masterpiece, and it's
one of the most under-appreciated movies of all time.
The acting is phenomenal. Mia Wasikowski, is truly a little actress. She was the only good part about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and she adds charm, liveliness, and quirkiness to an already fantastic film. I had never heard of the title actor before Restless, and after watching the preview, I wasn't that impressed with him. But during the actual movie, he took my soul on a journey.
This movie is unbelievably good. It's honest. Not only about life, but about the moments in life that make it so special. If I had to create a moral for the film it would be: Don't count the days until life ends, count the moments with the ones you love.
It truly is magnificent. It's A Walk to Remember, only with ghosts, snow angels, and a dash of lovable-ness that the Adam Shankman classic was always missing.
Director Gus Van Sant is renowned for films that explore the lives of
lost or outcast characters, and reveal their strength and beauty. And
his latest film Restless is no exception.
The film tells the story of two free-spirited teenagers - Annabel (Mia Wasikowska) and Enoch (Henry Hopper). Annabel is suffering a terminal illness, whilst Enoch splits his time between attending stranger's funerals and talking to the ghost of a kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi (Ryo Kase). As they fall for each other, it becomes clear that they are exactly what each other needs, and their lives revolve around making the most of each moment together.
Based on this summary you could be excused for thinking that Restless might be too melancholy. But I think it is more a celebration of life. Don't get me wrong, the film certainly does tug at the heart-strings, but there is an appreciation and acceptance of the fleeting nature of life that overwhelms the sadness.
Van Sant has created a beautiful film with vivid images and masterful direction. It's also quite quirky due to its interesting characters, script and film score. The performances are very good (especially from Wasikowska) which I think add to the strong emotions elicited in the audience. Annabel's zest for life is especially inspirational.
In this sense Restless is so much more than a love story. It certainly makes you appreciate life and loved ones, and this is what I really liked about the film.
Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) is a morbid teenager that enjoys attending
funerals. He meets the teenager Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska) in a
memorial service and they start to see each other. Enoch has lost his
parents in a car accident and lives with his aunt Mabel (Jane Adams).
His best and only friend is the ghost of the Japanese kamikaze pilot
Hiroshi Takahashi (Ryo Kase) and Enoch neither goes to school nor has a
car. Annabel is terminal with brain tumor and lives with her sister
Elizabeth (Schuyler Fisk) and her mother Rachel (Lusia Strus). She
loves to read about birds, especially the water birds. Soon the
unlikely couple falls in love with each other improving their lives.
"Restless" is a beautiful, romantic and sad movie about love, life and death. Enoch Brae recalls Harold, from "Harold and Maude", a teenager with a trauma attracted by memorial services. Mia Wasikowska is wonderful in the role of the sweet Annabel, a teenager terminally ill that loves life. The story is sensitive and their romance is heartbreaking. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Inquietos" ("Restless")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Enoch has an unusual hobby: He visits the funerals of strangers. At one
of them he meets Annabel, or rather she meets him, he, the teenage boy
always dressed in black ("I don't have any bright colors", he says),
shies away from the living, he prefers the society of the dead. But
Annabel cannot be gotten rid of so easily. At another funeral she turns
up and rescues him from an inquisitive funeral director. The ice breaks
and the two run off together. It's the beginning of an unusual
friendship and later romance: For these are two people in limbo,
hovering between life and death: Enoch lost his parents in a car crash
which nearly killed him, too. He is alive and healthy, yet has tuned
out of life. Annabel, on the other hand is full of life yet death has a
firm grip on her. She has cancer and only three months to live. Both
tread that wasteland between life and death, both in different ways.
And yes, they both need each other, one to learn to live again, the
other to walk into death with her held up high. One need not go back to
Love Story in order to detect the clichéd nature of this set up. But
this is a Gus van Sant film and the master seismograph of youth works
his magic once again.
These two wanderers between life and death have fallen out of time, in their state of limbo it does not matter, it might not even exist. In fact there is a third such wanderer: Hiroshi, Enoch's only and, of course, imaginary friend, the restless ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot in World War II, a wanderer in that nowhere land coming from the other side. A strange sense of time permeates this film, or rather a timelessness. Everything looks and feels old, as if already past. Enoch's clothes as well as Annabel's are from another time, or maybe none at all and the same is true for the interiors. Everything is half hidden as if by a veil, it is a world not entirely real as neither protagonist is truly part of what we like to call the real world.
Yet, in a strange way, what we see is entirely real, as, impossibly, these two lost souls orbit around each other, edging ever closer, before they collide in the tenderest and wholly unsentimental way. They may be in need of each other, but it is much more simple than this. They just fall in love the way teenagers do, for the first and undoubtedly the last time. All is serious and playful at the same time and the two actors, Mia Wiakowska and Henry Hopper (Dennis Hopper's son) play this in such a spectacularly unassuming as well as matter-of-fact way that none of the cliché-ridden turns and set pieces this most conventional of van Sant's films is full of, do not stick and cannot plunge it into sentimentality. There is a lightness to this film which is made even more poignant by the heaviness of the ever-present death. For this is not a "normal" teenage love story, it is a dance with death, which cannot deny being in fact a dance with life. And these two totally unpolished young actors lend this a credibility all too rare in Hollywood today.
The story itself is as predictable as it is well-known. The odd couple holding on to each other to teach each other the meaning of life, the complementariness of the life-death ambivalence in the two central characters, the breaking apart of the deal they have struck when Enoch cannot accept Annabel's imminent death, their coming back together in the end, all these are well-worn clichés. Danny Elfman's unceasing and often borderline sentimental music is not much of a help. In the hands of a lesser director, this would have turned into an unbearable tearjerker.
Not so with Gus van Sant: Repeatedly he adds little touches which recall this from the abyss of kitsch into which this film might have fallen. Hiroshi's ambivalent role helps keep it afloat and so does a good dose of irony and humor. The silly fun in the morgue or the horribly cheesy death scene which turns out to be just playacting tip this alway back on the side of life. Restless is a conventional story conventionally told and far from van Sant's most daring films, a minor work maybe. But even so, it is, nonetheless, a tender, touching and even uplifting story about the trials of youth and what it means to grow up that can only be told by an observer as keen and sympathetic as Gus van Sant.
A Febiofest screening, nothing signposts that 3 years after multi-Ocsar
nominated (including 2 wins) MILK (2008), Gus Van Sant will cook such a
cancer-ridden romantic flick grappling with a soul-healing recovery of
a parents-bereaved boy after his short relationship with a dying girl
although death has been a persistent topic all through his omnibus.
The over-simplified structure may impede Gus from a more spacious platform to perform his mastery, and precipitating an out-and-out snub from all sorts of awards consideration and the disastrous box-office turnover is fatal to destroy its investor's confidence, a total domestic grosses of $164,000 versus its $8 million production budget, which is a far cry not only from MILK, but also much lesser than its indie-alike PARANOID PARK ($490,000), signals that only Van Sant's loyal zealots showed their precious appearances in the cinema. Although smaller the scale, the film still holds steady its stunning visual mode, with bountiful layers of spiritual remedies to cure any scarred heart.
Plot-wise, there are nothing really popped-out, only the Japanese ghost-friend deployment has its exquisite enchantment and exotic luster, but is far from sheer original, which also coincides the film's suffering from the paucity of a one-of-a-kind uniqueness once one can notice among Van Sant's better works (say, ELEPHANT 2003, GOOD WILL HUNTING 1997, and MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO 1991), the story tends to be more lachrymose while marching on the unavoidable finale.
The two leads are basically serviceable, the tenderfoot Henry Hopper, who had just lost his father Dennis Hopper (1936-2010), is inappropriately in time for the role, handsome boys are never amiss in Van Sant's work. By contrast, a burgeoning Mia Wasikowska is the main magnetism on-screen, a product only cannot be stemmed from fiction as it's too ideal to be real.
Personally the film pleased me in a gently soothing method, but it is Van Sant in its very comfort zone without challenging too much of himself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought the acting was excellent, it's not actor studio and it's
probably for the best. I never liked people who over act and think
they're portraying reality (except James Dean and Marlon Brando in
Apocalypse now). Sean Penn in Milk to me was unbearable, flamboyant and
irritating. So it was quite refreshing to see Henry Hopper being so
vague and timid, I thought he was touching, he looked hurt and lost and
that was better to me than "professional acting". Mia Wasikowska was
beautiful and charismatic. They were both real to me, they exist. It's
no Elephant or Gerry and guess what it's not MOPI or Drugstore Cowboys
either. It's Gus Van Sant doing a romantic comedy with his themes
death, friendship and teenagers. It's light on the surface and dark
A film doesn't work necessarily by his script but by the feelings, the atmosphere and the tone it leaves you with. That film grew up on me hours after I've seen it. It made me think about life, just like Melancholia did (Melancholia felt to some people like a bunch of scenes where nothing happens, well it creates a whole thing, like pieces of a puzzle you gather altogether, it's not easy cinema where everything is explained to you, dully underlined, where you're being forced a message without having to think for yourself, like Paul Haggis's CRASH for example).
Restless is a good little movie, not a big masterpiece. Restless is a deep and arty film disguised as a quirky Rom-com. It has different levels of lecture. It's about questioning the time you spend on earth, what you decide to do with that time and lots of other
Some argue it's too clean in its depiction of cancer? So what? The subject is not cancer but the beauty of life and how death is part of life, and after all it is a romantic comedy so why show an ugly death? Furthermore some cancer don't disfigure people? I known a man who died a week after he got diagnosed, he had a brain tumour.
It's got a beautiful cinematography (Portland in autumn, great lights and beautiful colourful trees), wonderful themes (Life and Death with bugs, hospital, birds, Darwin) and nice soundtrack. It's a very moving film and it worked for me.
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