Cannes 2011 Review: Gus Van Sant's Charming Love Story 'Restless'
by Alex Billington
May 12, 2011
The latest film from filmmaker Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Elephant, Milk) premiering in Cannes is a quaint love story called Restless, starring Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre) and Henry Hopper (Dennis Hopper's son) as two unconventional teens who fall in love. But with any good story, it's much more than that. It started out a bit slow, but picked up by the second act and had me fully emotionally invested by the end. It's not as polished as GVS's Milk (my favorite movie of his that I've seen), but it's another wonderful film that tells a very sweet, heartwarming story between these two unusual kids.
Right from the start we learn that Enoch (Hopper) had a close experience with death and is now casually friends with a ghost named Hiroshi (played wonderfully by Ryo Kase) - a kamikaze pilot from WWII who can only be seen by him. Enoch, a depressed, lonely kid because his parents died a few years prior, crashes funerals; I wouldn't say "for fun", because that's definitely not his idea for attending. Annabelle (Wasikowska) notices him one day and confronts him, igniting the first spark in their relationship. There's something unique to her character too which drives the story, but I won't spoil it, since it's quite important.
The best word to describe Restless truly is "quaint" - strange, peculiar, or unusual in a pleasing or amusing way. It can sometimes be a bit depressing, but Danny Elfman's score and Mia Wasikowska's unending charm brings some lightness to the otherwise heavy plot. I enjoyed it and found myself entertained and invested in the characters, at least the two leads. The performances aren't flawless and were a bit too reserved at times, but that didn't detract too much from the film and story overall. It may not have a lot of style, but it's the wonderful story at its heart that makes it such a great film. Van Sant seems to continue growing on me with every new film, and this is one that I know I won't soon be forgetting. Worth watching if you get the chance.
Alex's Cannes Rating: 8 out of 10