Thursday, 12 January 2012

Restless, dir. Gus Van Sant, wr. Jason Lew, st. Mia Wasikowska, Henry Hopper

With its indie-cool detachment, bizarro subject matter and whimsical score Restless makes for an easy target for naysayers, although strangely, these weren't the things that irked me. Simply that Henry Hopper is simply not accomplished enough an actor to elevate Van Sant's picture to loftier heights. Wasikowska fares somewhat better, building on her extraordinary debut in HBO's In Treatment and breathing life into an otherwise bloodless part. Plotwise, think Lars And The Real Unwell Girl, as Enoch (Hopper), surly and alienated following the death of his parents, teams up with Cancer patient Annabel (Wasikowska), him to find some kind of cathartic resolution to his grief, her to find a release from the well-meaning treatment of Patients With Terminal Illnesses, and go out with a bang, or at least having experienced Something Real. Their ensuing relationship is by turns genuinely affecting and pretty predictable, and there's an irritating MacGuffin in the shape of Hiroshi, the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot and Enoch's only friend. One of the many points the film tries to make is how there can be beauty at the point of death in celebrating life lived, but maybe a subtler approach would have had a greater impact than this all too self-conscious effort.