Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season 10 Movies Booed At Cannes 10 Movies Booed At Cannes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Cannes Review: Gus Van Sant's 'Restless' Is An Endless Number Of Quirks Searching For A Movie

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist May 13, 2011 at 11:00AM

Easily the first hard flop of the Cannes Film Festival, the warning signs were there but perhaps we didn't pay them much mind. If everything had gone according to the original plan, "Restless" would have already come and gone in theaters and never hit the Croisette. And that probably would have been the better for everyone involved. Instead, a rightfully nervous Sony scuttled a planned January release and shuffled the film over to their indie division Sony Pictures Classics to handle. Kudos for them for getting the film into the opening slot of the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, because after seeing it, that must have been nothing short of a coup.
6


Easily the first hard flop of the Cannes Film Festival, the warning signs were there but perhaps we didn't pay them much mind. If everything had gone according to the original plan, "Restless" would have already come and gone in theaters and never hit the Croisette. And that probably would have been the better for everyone involved. Instead, a rightfully nervous Sony scuttled a planned January release and shuffled the film over to their indie division Sony Pictures Classics to handle. Kudos for them for getting the film into the opening slot of the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, because after seeing it, that must have been nothing short of a coup.

It's hard to know where the film was foiled -- whether it was in Gus Van Sant's completely anonymous direction or the derivative script by Jason Lew -- but "Restless" wears its amalgam of influences on its sleeve yet has no idea what makes them special. The film starts with a nod to "The Graduate" is what is a bit of a reversal on the reference. As Simon & Garfunkel sing, Enoch (Henry Hopper) sits on the back of a bus headed to a funeral. Cut from the same cloth that made Harold in "Harold & Maude," Henry is a bit of a gloomy soul, crashing funerals for reasons that are initially unclear. After his latest clandestine attendance at a memorial service he meets Annabel (Mia Wasikowska), a Mia Farrow-circa-"Rosemary's Baby"-haired young girl who immediately and directly calls him out for the hobby. And as it happens in movies, is also completely smitten with him. The two circle each other warily at first, but are obviously attracted to each other, but yet, they each have their own dark secrets.


So what happens for the next interminable hour or so is an endless string of reveals. Both Henry and Annabel each seem to get multiple confession scenes, where they reveal something (quite obvious) about why they have their innumerous quirks, but two things about them you already know: Henry is friends with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi (Ryo Kase), while Annabel has terminal cancer. But don't let that stop the cuteness! Annabel, without hesitation, starts rolling with Henry to funerals and the two strike up a distinctly unique relationship that revolves entirely around lovey dovey talk that, due to both of their morbid streaks, is framed around death, blood transfusions and ghosts. Awww. It's interesting -- for a moment -- but each death tinged come hither becomes staler and staler to the point where you just want to throttle someone to speak a line that would resemble something anybody would actually say.

At one point, even Gus Van Sant seems bored by his own movie so let's cue up a montage with our lovely duo embarking on a bunch of new activities together! With no jobs and no money, these two cutie pies seem to have found a vintage clothing goldmine, because we're pretty sure if we bought half the stuff Annabel was wearing for our girlfriend, we'd be flat broke. Any costume design enthusiasts take note -- there is a beautiful little sequence in here for you. But the tailor-made-for-indie-approval goodness doesn't end there. The film boasts a score by Danny Elfman -- which isn't too surprising considering Annabel is pretty much a variation of Lydia from "Beetlejuice" -- that basically sounds like something Mark Mothersbaugh would've written. And in case the already flatly mapped emotional beats aren't thuddingly obvious, Iron & Wine and Sufjan Stevens are there on the soundtrack to make sure you know exactly what to feel. Oh, but we've saved the best for last. The film ends on a fucking montage (another one!) set to Nico's "These Days." Whoever music supervised this movie should be fired. We shouldn't have to tell you the Wes Anderson connection, but in a movie that floats by with a big of whiff of insincerity and pandering to begin with, that moment puts the nail in the damn coffin, tosses it in the grave and pours the dirt on. And moreover, coming not so after a long extended scene in which the characters literally decried sappy movie-like death scenes, it's as if Van Sant just gave up. Hell, even ace cinematographer and longtime Van Sant collaborrator Harris Savides seemed to be going through the motions behind the camera.

Running a scant 90 minutes, almost every element of "Restless" feels like the script needed another pass. The character development is shortchanged on nearly every corner. Annabel's mother is introduced as a borderline alcoholic in one scene and then disappears completely only to reappear near the end of the film rather uselessly. We're not really sure why it's in there at all since she has no bearing on the plot or Annabel. Aunt Mabel (a sorely underutilized Jane Adams) is raising Henry, but the only indication of how much she sacrificed to take him under her roof is revealed with two sentences far too late in the picture. Henry also happens to have an aversion to cars -- the reason why we won't spoil here -- but one key sequence (which also happens to be on the back of yet another reveal, natch) forces him to have to get into a car but there is no moment set aside to consider how monumental this actually is. Instead, he gets car sick and then embarks on an elaborate pretend game with Annabel in a foggy forest immediately after.

And that's exactly what "Restless" feels like: a game. It's a game of spotting the references and then sitting there, jaw dropped, as they are skated over, as if by simply nodding at them the film gains instant credibly and insight. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Hooper and Wasikowska are game but they are let down by a script that doesn't offer them too much more to do that make saucer eyes at each other over increasingly tired and self-aware dialogue. As for Van Sant, this certainly isn't a commerical movie -- it's easy to see why Sony didn't bother; as romances go, it's pretty weird -- but it's not his movie at all either. It could have been any number of Wes Anderson clones knocking their way around film school that directed this and we wouldn't have been any the wiser. The only thing "Restless" offers is the titular feeling you're going to have enduring this at your local arthouse. [D]

This article is related to: Films, Actors, Actresses, Review, Gus Van Sant, Restless, Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates