Critics Consensus

Mia Wasikowska puts in a nuanced performance but nobody else, actors and directors included, are capable of finding a compelling angle beneath the twee veneer.



Total Count: 111


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,293
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Movie Info

Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska) is a beautiful and charming terminal cancer patient with a deep felt love of life and the natural world. Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) is a young man who has dropped out of the business of living, after an accident claimed the life of his parents. When these two outsiders chance to meet at a funeral, they find an unexpected common ground in their unique experiences of the world. For Enoch, it includes his best friend Hiroshi (Ryo Kase) who happens to be the ghost of a Kamikaze fighter pilot. For Annabel, it involves an admiration of Charles Darwin and an interest in how other creatures live. Upon learning of Annabel's imminent early passing, Enoch offers to help her face her last days with an irreverent abandon, tempting fate, tradition and even death itself. As their unique love for each other grows, so do the realities of the world that they have felt closing in on them. Daring, childlike, and distinctly rare - these two bravely face what life has in store for them. Fighting pain, anger and loss with youth, playfulness and originality, these two misfits turn the tables on life and play by their own rules. Their journey begins to collide with the unstoppable march of time, as the natural cycle of life comes to claim Annabel. -- (C) Sony Classics

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Critic Reviews for Restless

All Critics (111) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (70)

Audience Reviews for Restless

  • May 28, 2014
    "There's talk on the street and the nation is worried, but you can't talk back when you're dead, when you're dead and buried, and everybody's restless!" Speaking of gay, Elton John fans, I present to you overdue evidence that Gus Van Sant, or simply not as busy as Mia Wasikowska, who was indeed pretty "restless" in 2011, unlike the handful of people who actually watched the films she did that year. I liked "Jane Eyre" and "Albert Nobbs", but they were way too dryly British for their own good, and this film is British-American, so it's not too much more exciting. Being that this is set in Oregon, I see that Gus Van Sant is finally getting back to visiting the old college stomping grounds, but looking at how "Paranoid Park" was co-French, and now this film, it would appear that Van Sant really got into hanging out in Europe when he did those blasted art films that were all the rage over there. I poke fun at "Jane Eyre" and "Albert Nobbs", but I think Van Sant was out of commission before this film for so long because he thought to put on the "Death Trilogy" and found himself just about bored, maybe not to death, but to sleep. Don't worry, people, because before this film was "Milk" which was adequately entertaining, or, well, at least good enough for you to kind of forgot about how Van Sant's entertainment value has been slipping over the past couple of years. Well, folks, this film ought to remind you, because it's not exactly "Milk" good enough for you to disregard its problems. Light though it may be, gradual exposition does little to compensate for a disconcerting lack of immediate development that shakes the hook of the drama, as it is so light, at least to where, despite the worthy performances, it's difficult to get invested into a lot of the eccentricities which define the leads. If you find difficulty in getting used to the offputting characterization, you're sure to find difficulty in getting used to certain offputting dramatics, as this is an often improbable melodrama that is often genuine enough to resonate for what it is, and just as often too saccharine for comfort. If nothing else can be said about the histrionics, they're unique, and even then, it's only a matter of time before this often truly refreshing melodrama conforms, and such tropes are made all the more frustrating by their clashing with the unique attributes that, if undisturbed, could have made the effort more compelling. With that said, the film was never to be all that compelling, because as charming and moving as this dramedy gets to be, its story concept's weight is relatively light, almost bland in its minimalism, not helped by blandness to the interpretation. Even Jason Lew's script has bland issues in pacing, because even though the film dances around a runtime of only an hour-and-a-half, it still has a tendency to get caught up in repetitious filler whose dragging is really felt through dry spells in Gus Van Sant's directorial momentum. I joked about the film being kind of dull at times, but there really are more than a few boring spots to punctuate a certain consistency to blandness, deriving from conventions and pacing issues that betray what potential there is to a minimalist narrative. The final product is more forgettable than it ought to be, although I won't say that it falls as flat as many say it do, adequately endearing, at least as cute, even with, of all things, its soundtrack. Combining delicate indie music sensibilities with some subtle notes from his own trademark whimsy, the great Danny Elfman composes a score that might not exactly be all that unique in general, but is unique for Elfman, whose light tastefulness, while lacking in flare and dynamicity, is lovely and complimentary to the eccentric charm of the film. Visual style further adds to the film's distinct flavor, with Harris Savides delivering on handsome cinematography whose dry coloration makes certain lighting all the more distinguished, and has plenty of opportunities to polish plenty of Oregon Autumn visuals that capture a sense of life in the middle of the fading of a chapter in life. For such an effective play on visual style, Gus Van Sant's direction deserves some credit, for although Van Sant is not as inspired in his thoughtful directorial style as he has been, when his classic meditativeness bites, it endears, whether it be making the light humor thoroughly charming, or making the more genuine aspects in the drama pretty moving, and complimentary to pretty worthy thematic depths. As I said earlier, the story, while not lacking in dramatic value, is lacking in narrative dynamicity, and on top of that, it's uniqueness is betrayed by conventional storytelling spots, though not obscured, because through all of tropes is a genuinely refreshing story with very valuable themes on embracing life and love, even when it begins to grow faint, that stand to be more haunting, yet are still done a fair bit of justice, by clever highlights in Jason Lew's scripting. Lew's characterization is particularly strong, betrayed by expository shortcomings and, well, histrionics, yet still unique and worthy, drawing a pair of intriguing, if overly eccentric leads who go brought to life by worthy lead performances. Everyone fills his or her part pretty well, but it really is the leads who really keep things going, with Henry Hopper nailing the awkward charm and eventual devastating emotional instability of an eccentric youth distanced from the world by loss and other personal demons, while Mia Wasikowska encompasses the subdued discomfort that defines an eccentric on the bittersweet path to death. Between these two leads is a chemistry that is just as sharp as the individual performances, making for leads who carry the dramedy, but not alone, because no matter how much potential is lost, and limited to begin with, there's something endearing about this endeavor that charms and moves adequately, if improvably. When it comes time to rest, underdeveloped and eccentric characters behind a melodramatic, occasionally formulaic, slowly told and all around conceptually minimalist narrative render the final product forgettable, but not so forgettable that you can disregard the tasteful scoring, lovely visual style, tasteful direction, clever writing, and pair of worthy lead performances by Henry Hopper and Mia Wasikowska that, behind a story that is still refreshing and worthy in a lot of ways, drive Gus Van Sant's "Restless" as a charming dramedy with powerful moments, limited though they may be. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Dec 14, 2012
    A boy with a kamikaze pilot ghost for a best friend and a hobby of attending funerals falls in love with a girl who's dying of cancer. Remaking HAROLD AND MAUDE as a teen romance with a hot Maude and a ghost sidekick sounds like a bad idea, but with some brain-dead acting and a script that's sicklier than Mia Wasikowska's character, it's even worse than you would imagine.
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2012
    I'm caught in a dilemma here, wanting to judge this film from an indie perspective and sensibility; at which point I would give this a fairly good passing grade due to the solid productions values and able performances by the two leads... but taken as a major, main stream production it fails for all the reasons that it makes a good indie. From the opening scenes I thought I was in a remake of Harold & Maude - and was hoping for dark satire - but what Gus Van Sant presents here is more of a quirky love story with two kids dealing with the big one - death. The dynamic is interesting with one of the characters refusing to succumb while the other has waved the white flag, all the while trying to make sense of his personal tragedy by becoming a funeral crasher (and please - do NOT pitch this as a Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler comedy!!!). The outward quirkiness and the offbeat nature of what is presented is a double edged sword - you can either dismiss it or accept it - just as the 2nd hand store clothing of the female role is either just right, or way too precious. However, what is for certain is that Mia Wasikowska hits all the notes just right here - real, vulnerable, yet with that spark of life and that slightly goofy, off center smile that makes you just want to hug her. Opposite Mia is the more difficult role of the shattered teen, and here Henry Hopper also manages the part well, managing to show his anger in a simmering fashion instead of boiling over (even if, as any teen would, he occasionally lashes out). Their quirky romance is just a bit too "aw gee", and since this budding romance is the center that the rest of the film spins around, then one will either enjoy the film for this teen based bit of nostalgia, or wish that a more serious tone were employed concerning the topic of death and how to deal with it. Perhaps this is the point - and the only way to approach the topic of death is with a modicum of gentle humor. Once again, I'm on the fence and can see this film from both perspectives - a sweet tome to youth and discovery, or a too precious look into two different perspectives on death.
    paul s Super Reviewer
  • Jun 29, 2012
    I'm not exactly the biggest Gus Van Sant fan, I find him to be very pretentious. Elephant being a prime example of this. But he can do good work when there's somebody to control him and make him keep his eye on the task at hand instead of doing long tracking shots of someone walking through a high school and a 10 minute scene of someone playing a piano. Milk is a good movie because of his lack of artistic freedom. Though it's still a massively overrated film. Sean Penn's performance is also overrated. Anyway, I think this movie sort of combines both of his styles in a movie that's kind of a mess at times. Really I wanted to like this movie, and in some scenes I really was but the movie is way too sentimental and indie cutesy, it was quite frankly pretty overbearing. I mean it definitely has its sweet and touching moments, but this movie is entirely comprised of trying to be sweet and touching, so I mean even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while right? This is, really, a Mia Wasikowska showcase. Whether she acted like this on her own or from direction by Gus, which if this is the case then good for him, I'll touch on this more later, but the point is Mia is excellent in the role and she adds a lot of class and weight to a character that in a lot of movies would've been used for straight-up melodrama. Her performance is subtle and not over the top. Which brings us to the "main" character Enoch (too close to Eunuch, quite frankly), this character is really annoying to be honest. I don't think there's a problem to have a character who is obviously flawed, but there's a fine line between flawed and annoying and Enoch definitely didn't ride that fine line. Maybe this is Henry Hopper's fault, who did absolutely nothing for me and it's kind of a shame because there's just absolutely no chemistry between these two. Especially when it's supposed to be this romance that, at least Enoch, would never forget. There's nothing unforgettable about this pairing and I blame that completely on Enoch's character and Henry Hopper's performance. And it's kind of a shame with Mia's performance that her 'love interest' wasn't up to the task. Anyway, I wanted to like this movie and I liked Mia's performance and some other moments in the film but overall it's another letdown from Gus Van Sant.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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