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:: Restless

“It’s a love story but it centres around death.” You could imagine the stunned silence when writer Jason Lew tried to pitch his idea for Restless. The answer of course is director, Gus Van Sant who outdoes himself with a film that is guaranteed to emotionally affect anyone who watches it.

Life has dealt Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) a really nasty blow. His parents were killed in a car accident that he miraculously survived, now he is forced to live with his Aunty Mabel (Jane Adams), whom he partially blames for the accident, while his only friend is the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot, Hiroshi (Ryo Kase). He spends his days attending the funerals of strangers, which is where he meets young cancer patient, Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska) who only has three months to live.

While the idea of a romance movie that is shrouded in death seems unmakeable, Gus Van Sant ends up making one of his most beautiful films. Van Sant brings a real brightness to the film and surprisingly you never find yourself becoming depressed with the topic at hand.

A lot of credit must also be paid to Lew’s script. You can’t help but like Enoch and Annabel and you want them to be happy even though you know that the happiness will be short lived. Lew has created two unique characters and you find yourself wanting to know more about them, in fact you could even say that they are two of the most unique characters to ever grace the screen. The bond between the two of them also amounts to one of the most romantic relationships ever written, and as a result you can’t help yourself getting emotionally involved.

Little things such as Annabel’s love of birds make her intriguing while the Enoch and Hiroshi friendship also raises lots of questions. Most of the time you find yourself wondering whether or not Enoch has been driven to madness while the other half of you finds yourself thinking… what if? To their credit though both Van Sant and Lew leave you wondering right until the end… and that is what makes the film so delightful.

The other sensational thing with Restless is the amazing acting performances from Hopper and Wasikowska. While many have been labeling Wasikowska the next-big-thing for quite a while now, for me this is the first film where she has really had a chance to show off her acting ability. She waltzed through Alice In Wonderland and Jane Eyre but here she portrays real passion in a role that truly deserves to gain some award wins. Also brilliant is Henry Hopper (Dennis Hopper’s son) who shows that he already has the ability to be the leading man. With good looks and an amazing amount of talent he is certainly someone to watch in the future.

Poignantly beautiful, Restless is Gus Van Sant’s best film since Elephant. This is a film that will haunt you for a long time after the credits have rolled. One of the best films of the year.