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Monday, April 9, 2012

Restless Movie Review - Mia Wasikowska Henry Hopper

A teenage boy, Enoch (Henry Hopper, who is the son of Dennis Hopper), is obsessed with attending funerals. It is at a funeral that he meets another teen, Annabel (Mia Wasikowska). Annabel is dying from cancer.

Enoch and Annabel are an unlikely couple but I suppose as relationships go, they are perfectly matched. They watch funerals together, they sneak into a morgue, at times pretend to be dead, plan their own deaths and pretty much revolve their entire relationship around their obsession with dying.

Death is the overwhelming thematic element in “Restless.” The Oregon sky always seems cloudy and the ground is perpetually wet. Enoch broods over the loss of his parents years ago in a car accident. Annabel is aware that she only has a few months to live.

Enoch lives with his aunt, who he unfairly blames for his parents passing. They live in huge home that seems to resemble the Adam’s Family haunted mansion (for those who remember that TV show). The home is big, woody, ornate and never, ever seems to get enough light inside. You sense death in that home.

The characters in Restless all have lives revolving around the dead or dying. They are funeral workers, morgue attendants, doctors, nurses and people about to lose loved ones forever.

When Enoch and Annabel go out trick or treating together during Halloween, I realized that his film is absolutely and unapologetically saturated with death.

Before you fall into severe depression, rest assured that within the gloomy themes there is a very light hearted love story going on between Enoch and Annabel. The activities they enjoy together are morbid but they seem to love every minute of it. Their relationship is more a celebration of life rather than one that is coming to a doomed ending.

This isn’t a film that revolves around the effects of cancer. Writer Jason Lew and director Gus Van Sant downplay the consequences of fading from a terminally ill disease. Annabel doesn’t suffer much from the symptoms of a brain tumor, she just lives with the knowledge that she is dying as happily as she can. Some audiences might find this unrealistic but I think there is enough dying in this film. Showing Annabel wither away from a brain tumor would be fatuous and take make the already heavy theme too overwhelming.

Mia Wasikowska plays Annabel to at tee. She is so charming and lovable and remains so even as her end grows closer. In spite of her disease she has a passion for studying Charles Darwin, she loves to draw, and is perpetually upbeat and optimistic.

Henry Hopper does a decent job as Enoch but his character could have been a little more charismatic. I didn’t find him very sympathetic. I’m still a bit miffed about why Annabel would pursue a relationship with Enoch in the first place. He is droll, moody, uneducated and stubborn. He doesn’t seem to have much to offer Annabel. As the movie progresses though the relationship makes perfectly good sense, I just had to suspend my disbelief at first.

Speaking of suspending disbelief, there was something about this film that was completely unexpected. Enoch has a friend, Hiroshi (as in Hiroshima?). Hiroshi is an imaginary friend or perhaps a ghost, I’m still not exactly sure. He was a Japanese Kamikaze pilot killed during World War Two who now spends his days as Enoch’s best friend and confidant. Played by Ryo Kase, Hiroshi is a nice surprise in this film. Hiroshi softens the bristly edges of Enoch. While Hiroshi is not exactly a comic touch, he did help me to not take the film too seriously.

The first half of this film I wasn’t too sure what I got myself into. As the movie progressed I realized I needed to suspend my disbelief and just accept what was going on. Once I did this the movie began to affect me and capture my attention. I can’t say that this is a movie that I’ll ever watch again, but it is a film that has kept me thinking about it for days on end.


PG 13

1 hour, 33 Minutes

More Film Reviews By TurtleDog

Major League Catcher is Dying and Brings a Team Together While Driving Coach Crazy

The Masculine, Rough and Tumble World of a Futures Exchange Pit

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