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Restless

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Gun Van Sant’s latest film Restless is a beautifully crafted story of adolescence, love and mortality.

Enoch (Henry Hopper) is a teenage loner whose parents have died in a car accident. Struggling to deal with the loss, he spends his days gate-crashing funerals with his imaginary friend Hiroshi (Rye Kase), the ghost of a WW2 kamikaze pilot. When he meets Annabel (Mia Wasikowska), a worldly nature enthusiast with a lust for life, the pair soon fall for each other.

Things get complicated when Annabel announces she is a terminal cancer patient and only has three months to live. The pair choose to stay together despite the dreaded day looming. In her final months, Annabel teaches Enoch a very important lesson – to embrace life, rather than focus on death.

Despite its heavy content, Restless is an airy, heartwarming film. Gus Van Sant makes the city of Portland radiate with warm milky colours – rich pastels that capture the whimsical nature of first love. The sentimental score by composer Danny Elfman adds to the ethereal texture of the film as we escape into the shared reverie of the two protagonists, wandering suburban streets giddy and vibrant.

In this, Restless is one of Gus Van Sant’s more straightforward films, the authenticity is driven by the actors. Wasikowska is commendable in her role as Annabel – her softness and contagious courage bursts through the screen. Hopper, son of Dennis, is wonderful, providing complexity to a character that would have been easy for a less talented actor to dilute.

Restless is a bittersweet and gentle film, a tale of two young people trying their best to navigate their way through adult problems. It is about adolescence stunted by tragedy yet riddled with the awkwardness of  typical teen hood – a first kiss, a walk in the woods, a nervous exchange of compliments. It offers a fresh take on the “coming of age” genre.

Restless is screening at Cinema Nova, Carlton. For tickets and times visit cinemanova.com.au.


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