Enoch is a funeral-crashing dropout whose best friend is the ghost of a WWII japanese kamikaze pilot. Annabell is terminally ill and only has three months to live. The two share a love for funerals and quickly form a tight bond.
“Restless” is your typical romantic comedy with a twist. Of course, the whole quirky-love-story-ironically-kindled-at-a-funeral shtick has been done time and time again, but nonetheless the film is unapologetic despite its predictability. It’s a modern day “Harold and Maude” for all intents and purposes, only the cast is is young, vibrant,and notably beautiful. Enoch, played by Henry Hopper (son of the late, great Dennis Hopper) is a deeply troubled teen who has purposefully surrounded himself by death after a family tragedy befalls him. To his surprise, he meets a girl, Annabell (played by Mia Wasikowska), who actually shares his morbid interests. As the two grow closer, it is evident that Annabell is nearing the end, which adds a sense of urgency to their relationship.
The film starts off strong enough but is soon plagued by a painfully predictable final act. The juxtaposition between youthful expression and ever-looming mortality is interesting, but unfortunately Enoch and Annabel’s relationship isn’t given enough time to blossom. The whole thing feels rushed; by the time the ending rolled around, I knew just about as much about their relationship as I did at the beginning. Character development aside, the inclusion of Enoch’s best friend, Hiroshi (in the form of a ghost), is brilliant and the biggest source of humor in the film.
The acting is stellar, the script is clever, it’s beautifully shot … but the film is just hollow. “Restless” acts as a caricature of every quirky romantic comedy, going through all the motions but never bringing anything new to the table. In fact, the film essentially wears all its influences unabashedly on its sleeve. The lack of originality is really disappointing, especially given Gus van Sant’s recent output as of late. The short length of the movie (an average 90 minutes) is primarily what keeps it from developing, yet I was pretty much checked out by the time the credits rolled. So I’m not sure if extending the film would have helped much. It makes for a decent date-night movie, but I’m hard-pressed to recommend it otherwise.