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Published on Sep 10, 2011
From his highly original first feature, MalaNoche, in 1985, through a host of crucial films over the past twenty years, Gus Van Sant has proven to be an uncommonly sensitive observer of teen angst. Full of wide-eyed wonder at the mysteries of the world, his catalogue of youthful characters wander — motion is often part of Van Sant's narrative strategy — in an attempt to comprehend and reconcile themselves to an idiosyncratic universe.
A delicate love story about two outsiders drawn to each other by a fascination with death, Restless finds the director in a ruminative mood. Enoch is a somewhat formal, withdrawn teenager who crashes other people's funerals. In his fantasy life he plays games with an imaginary friend, a Japanese kamikaze pilot from the Second World War, but what has prompted his obsession with death lies in the details of his own personal life. One day, he meets another funeral crasher, the pixieish Annabel, and as their tentative relationship progresses, she draws the young man out of his shell. Wayward, beautiful and ultimately fragile, Annabel has her own secret, which adds an intense poignancy to their imagined future together.
The glue of this particular film lies not just with Van Sant's loving and discreet handling of his subject matter, but with the beautifully hesitant, perfectly articulated performances of the two leads. Henry Hopper (Dennis Hopper's son) makes his screen debut, and along with the immensely impressive Mia Wasikowska (surely the actor of the moment), shapes Restless into a profoundly moving account of two lost souls whose union becomes a marvelous affirmation of life. Reminiscent, inevitably, of Hal Ashby's classic Harold and Maude, Restless is a glorious addition to the lengthy slate of films that catch a teen couple on the cusp of facing, and making, adult decisions. Piers Handling Director's Bio
Gus Van Sant was born in Louisville, Kentucky. His films include: Mala Noche (85); Drugstore Cowboy (89); My Own Private Idaho (91); Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (94); To Die For (95); Good Will Hunting (97); Psycho (98); Finding Forrester (00); Gerry (02); Elephant (03), which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival; Last Days (05); To Each His Own Cinema (segment, 07); Paranoid Park (07), which had its North American premiere at the Festival; Milk (08), winner of Academy Awards® for best actor and best original screenplay; and Restless (11).