Movie #351 Restless
(2011, US, d. Gus Van Sant)
About 5 minutes into this movie, I was sure I wasn’t going to like it. I have this thing about indie movies trying their absolute hardest to come off as indie and as hipster as possible. They never work. At least for me. And this film had all the right elements for it: dysfunctional protagonist who crashes funerals for no apparent reason, a girl with brain cancer, and the setting: Portland, Oregon. Hipster central. But then about 15 minutes into this film, things started changing. I started feeling some heart in it. Not the cheesy type or the unnatural type (Juno, I’m talking to you) but the authentic type (think Away We Go). It’s a film that slowly starts to make you care and make you feel for these people. At its core a tragedy, it is also a film that makes you laugh. But again, not in the superficial way. With interesting characters and interesting problems, it is the type of film that could easily be interpreted as being a stupid indie romcom but it isn’t. It’s more than that: it’s a film about accepting loss and coming to terms with death. Sure, it has its cheesy parts, but these happen to be more in the field of romance than in insight. Produced by Ron Howard and daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, this is not Van Sant’s best work, but it is still a showcase to a little versatility. Featuring exceptionally powerful performances by lead Mia Wasikowska and newcomer Henry Hopper (the late Dennis Hopper’s son, who bears a striking resemblance to a younger James Franco), Restless is a quiet but affecting film. Lately we’ve been getting a lot of those, but that doesn’t make this film any worse. Potentially tear-inducing, I, at least, was moved by the whole piece.