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.
Reviewed by Damon Wise