Restless Review

Image for Restless

When terminally ill teenager Annabel (Wasikowska) meets Enoch Brae (Hopper), a fey boy who likes to go to strangers' funerals, sparks don't so much fly as twinkle gently down on the alternative universe the pair quickly forge between them.

★★★★★

On form, Gus Van Sant makes truly transcendent American films, some of them experimental, some of them supremely mainstream. Some of them, though, fall in between, which is where we find Restless, a pasty homage to Hal Ashby’s 1971 black comedy Harold And Maude, in which a morbid young man (Henry Hopper, son of Dennis) doesn’t fall for an old lady but a cute teen with a tumour (Mia Wasikowska). The wistful music of Sufjan Stevens punctuates throughout, just as Elliott Smith’s did in Good Will Hunting, but though the film creates a convincing tension of opposites — kooky Wasikowska is the perfect foil to the hangdog, spit-of-his dad Hopper — the bittersweet outcome is pretty much as you’d expected and, shockingly for a Van Sant movie, isn’t subverted at all.

Compared to its direct inspiration - Hal Ashby's blackly brilliant Harold And Maude - Restless comes off like an anemic facsimile. After the excellent Milk, this is more like curdled cheese.