Restless, Cannes Film Festival
Teen angst that fails to convince
Monday 16 May 2011
So successful has Gus Van Sant been in trying to make films with teen appeal that the 58-year-old has now started making movies resembling the work of film-school students.
This romantic drama has the quirky indie aesthetic that has become Van Sant's modus operandi. The characters are an eclectic mix of terminally ill-cancer patient, angst-ridden high school dropout and the ghost of a kamikaze pilot.
But as with many misunderstood teenagers, it's hard to have empathy for these characters as they spend most of their existence in a solipsistic haze. Our romantic leads, Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska) and Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper), meet at a funeral. Annabel is facing up to her impending death from cancer: she is informed she only has three months to live. Her older sister (Schuyler Fisk, daughter of Sissy Spacek) wants to mollycoddle her through her last days, but the sprightly Annabel has other ideas and she falls for Enoch, a boy with seemingly no will to live. Indeed her joie de vivre is such that it's often easy to forget that she is about to die and the illness remains a dark cloud on the horizon. The emphasis is very much on the romance.
Playing her beau is Henry Hopper, son of the late Dennis Hopper. The handsome newcomer has already captured his father's ability to brood on screen. It's no surprise given his newcomer status that he delivers a reserved performance, overshadowed by his more experienced co-star.
Enoch is a typical Van Sant outsider and seems modelled on River Phoenix circa My Own Private Idaho. Instead of being the high-school star, misfortune has cast Enoch on the periphery. His parents died in a car crash and he has since gone off the rails. It's easy to see why he'd be infatuated with sick Annabel.
Enoch's best friend is Hiroshi (Ryo Kase), the ghost of a Second World War Japanese pilot. He is on hand to give advice whenever Enoch runs into a cul-de-sac but is also a character that seems to have no purpose except to be quirky and differentiate Restless from the plethora of other movies dealing with teenage love.
The film originated from a series of short plays and vignettes developed by screenwriter Jason Lew, who was an NYU classmate of the film's producer, the actress Bryce Dallas Howard. At times the movie betrays this legacy, as it feels like a series of scenes rather than a cohesive whole..
Restless has a more mainstream sensibility than his Palme d'Or winning high-school shooting drama Elephant, skateboard movie Paranoid Park and his almost silent homage to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, Last Days. But it's also less insightful about America's youth than any of these efforts.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
The C-Word - review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest adaptation of Lisa Lynch's book about living with cancer
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Adam Sandler's The Ridiculous Six: Make-up 'used to darken skin of actors to make them look Native American'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils