I Cannes’t be more “Restless”

Restless

Let’s get the ridiculous plot right out of the way. Enoch, played by Henry Hopper, a newcomer who happens to be Dennis Hopper’s son, has recently lost his parents, has dropped out of school, finds an obsession with death and hangs out at funerals for strangers, and now has an invisible friend named Hiroshi who is the ghost of a Japanese Kamikaze pilot from World War II. He is the very definition of indie movie quirk. At one of these funerals, he meets the terminally ill Annabel, played by Mia Wasikowska, better known as Alice in last year’s Alice in Wonderland.

If you haven’t heard the term before, Annabel is Enoch’s manic-pixie-dream girl – the girl who has her own set of undeniable quirks all under an unfailing positive attitude, falls in love with the troubled male lead, and through the powers of love cures his depression. The movie never takes any dramatic or unexpected turns, it ends just how it has to end, and you are left wondering most of the time why the ghost is a Japanese fighter pilot so consider the plot spoiled.

Fortunately, the movie is saved in the style category. It’s a pretty movie made by pretty people. Everyone’s clothing looks like it comes right out of a Calvin Kline ad as they run through the forest and discover run down but vintage houses. The two leads are breathtakingly attractive even though she is sporting a masculine haircut. The music is probably the most distinct aspect as its indie guitar melodies carry the whole film in this twee dream like space where their relationship seems destined to work.

The majority of the movie, however, is simply pretty people doing nothing. They play games with each other and with dead people, they trace their outlines in chalk as if they have died and the parallels between her dying and his dying inside are made all too obvious. Van Sant’s film hovers far too much on the clean and polished surface to incite any real emotions at all. And then of course there’s the kamikaze pilot. What is he doing there?

The promise of this movie is that Mia Wasikowska elevates her material into something almost real. She gives a finely nuanced performance and makes her screen partner a thousand times better, which still isn’t saying much for Henry Hopper. Sadly, one good performance cannot bring this movie out of the vintage-painted emptiness throughout.

It was bad but Cannes pun count: 3

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