Restless is a
personal and heartfelt film about finding love, cherishing it, and
remembering to live life with enthusiasm, courage, and spirit. It is
the story of two young people named Enoch (Henry Hopper) and Annabel
(Mia Wasikowska). Enoch is a disillusioned
youth who seems to have forgotten why life is so valuable and
important. He forgot to cherish every moment. Annabel is a jubilant
lover of life. She helps bring a ray of sunshine into the lost life of
Enoch. Her eyes show her enthusiasm, her smile exudes her kindness, and
her nice laughter is filled with a solemn air of hope. Annabel has
cancer and she is dying when she meets Enoch. This is the point at
which I felt like crying the most. I wept.
This film has a special kind of courage in the filmmaking that is so
incredibly valuable, needed, and worth appreciating. There need to be
stories told like this one. We need filmmakers willing to tell stories
that are capable of being genuine about topics which generally become
avoided because of the real sorrows associated with them. Both main
behind-the-scenes creative artists (Gus Van Sant and Jason Lew) can
proclaim proudly that they contributed magnificently to that kind of
work. Well done.
The entirety of the story feels very much intelligent, honest, and
heartfelt. Each scene eventually feels as if it is an important piece
of the whole. No scene feels wasted, with elements that could have been
removed. The screenwriting captures what I imagine it accurately feels
like for many young people: to be confused about our place in life and
completely at a loss for what it would mean to lose out on life - on
one's future - with nothing to guarantee that there will be a tomorrow.
Annabel is such a strong character. She understands that there's a
strong likelihood of impending death but she doesn't let that stop her
from living. It makes her even more appreciative of every moment she
has left. Mia Wasikowska performs her character so incredibly well that
you truly grow to care for Annabel over the course of the film. This
performance stands out as one of Wasikowska's best to date in an
already impressive career that will hopefully last an incredibly long
Hopper (son of Dennis Hopper) also delivers an impressive performance
with an incredible amount of skill at portraying a lost character who
discovers what life means through his encounters with Annabel. The
character Enoch has a close friend: Hiroshi. There's never enough
clarification to say exactly "what" Hiroshi is... he's a ghost or an
imaginary friend. I truly believe the story leans more towards
considering him a ghost. Hiroshi was a kamikaze who died at an early
age as a result. This character's definitely fascinating within the
story as he learns to cope with his own loss (of family, of living)
through helping Enoch and Annabel.
Nobody knows how to respond to the idea of anyone having cancer... let
alone young people. Having a film as well-made and heartfelt as Restless and 50/50 (another important
and honest artistic achievement) is not only worthwhile but absolutely
in necessity. This is a film with a mission. To remind others to live
out every day of life enthusiastic
about the day and unafraid of
the tomorrow... to live life in all its beauty. I found
the film connected with me on a deeply personal level. It should be
capable of connecting to others in similar ways. Gus Van Sant is easily
one of those mysterious, rare, and gifted filmmakers who seems to
perfectly understand how to tell magnificent stories that others would
be afraid to attempt to explore. Restless is one
of the best films of 2011.
Pictures Classics has presented Gus Van Sant's Restless on
Blu-ray in 1080p High Definition with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio preserving
the original theatrical exhibition format. Restless has received an
impressive High Definition presentation which reproduces the frequently
muted and carefully filmed cinematography. The colors never quite "pop"
in those typical demo-disc ways and there is some film grain inherent
to the image. This doesn't distract from the presentation's fine
qualities and it adds to these appropriate cinematic styling's of the
film. This was never intended as a film to impress all of the
overwhelming visual senses of a modern-blockbuster, but like all Gus
Van Sant films, there's an undeniable quality of artistry in the way
the film looks that is beautiful and hypnotic. The overall presentation
still remains as something quite clean and modern.
audio quality manages to blend well with the superb picture quality.
This Blu-ray release contains DTS-HD Master Audio presentations in
English, French (PAR), and Portuguese. The original language track is
in English. The lossless audio mix hasn't attempted to create the most
dynamic aural experience possible - the mix remains unmistakably
focused on the front-channels and dialogue, which is well reproduced.
Surround effects are occasionally used to great affect and the ambiance
of the track improves upon the experience but it simply isn't going to
take full advantage of the surround possibilities. Danny Elfman's score
works wonders on the film (as do these wonderful musical selections
which are sprinkled throughout).
5.1 Dolby Digital is also provided. Subtitles are included in English,
French, Portuguese, Spanish, and English (SDH) for the deaf and hard of
immense surprise, there really isn't a single solitary extra on this
release that I would consider inessential. Restless
doesn't have the largest supplemental selection in some ways (the
featurettes are brief interviews discussing the director, characters,
actors, etc.) yet
it does seem as though everything that was compiled was done so with an
intent of making it worth checking out and there is one massive
inclusion on this release which is more-or-less essential viewing as
something alongside the main feature. I am speaking of the Silent Film
Version of Restless.
Sant's Silent Version of Restless (AVC,
2.0 Audio, 1:16:25) is as it sounds: this is Van Sant playing with his
techniques of filmmaking once more. Most fans of the filmmaker should
be able to readily acknowledge that he has two sides to his films - the
mainstream "made for the people" stories and those efforts which are
deeply personal or experimental. These elements usually tend to blend
together at times but there is no mistaking these as different
filmmaking approaches. Apparently, Van Sant usually asks for his actors
(on any film) to perform a scene as presented in the script and also as
if there was a silent version. This method of directing is intended to
garner greater performances from the actors and to capture the
emotional rawness of the performances. Restless actor
Henry Hopper thought it sounded like something that could actually work
separately and suggested that Gus actually compile the entire silent
version from the takes from this film and to craft an alternate film.
Consider it supplemental but essential - this is the exact same movie
as the one with all of those dialogue-heavy scenes... it just expresses
things differently. I'd recommend watching the "normal" (should I use
quotes?) version of Restless first but then to dig in and enjoy a
silent film experience that is well worth checking out and
comparing/contrasting. It does a fine job of demonstrating just how
powerful the performances of the actors have been and this ultimately
enhanced my appreciation of Restless. This is even
complete with title cards.
are included. There are three omitted scenes in total and the final one
(entitled "Enoch and Elizabeth") was a powerful scene. I couldn't quite
understand the reason behind it being edited out of the final cut of
the film. The script seemed to call for a moment like the one
highlighted here and I would have considered it as one of the finest
moments in the already excellent movie. I wish that sequence had been
left in. The other two scenes are essentially extended moments and they
clearly dampened the flow a bit - one has an offensive prank and the
other simply feels like an unnecessary extension.
are five featurettes on this release. These explore the
creation of the film, the script, the themes, and the character
relationships between Enoch, Annabel, and Hiroshi.
Enoch & Annabel: Our Love (6:20)
and Enoch & Hiroshi: The Best of Friends (4:06) discusses
the relationships of the characters. Gus Van Sant: Independent Voice
(6:04) admires the work of the film's accomplished director.
Being Restless (9:50) works as an extended creation piece with more
details on the film's origins than the other featurettes.
Coming to Life: This is Restless (6:04)
is a discussion between producer Bryce Dallas Howard and screenwriter
Jason Lew. The pair discusses how the project was made and thematically
how the story was an uplifting one meant to inspire others about the
value found in remembering the importance of living one's life (and
specifically how this was important for Enoch's character).
Theatrical Trailer (2:14,
5.1 Surround Sound)
other Sony & Sony Pictures Classics releases were also included.
Restless is one
of the best and most important films made in 2011. The film struck a
deeply personal chord with me and it will be one that I can cherish and
remember fondly. There is no question that this is a story that
absolutely needed to be told. I only wish more viewers would be
interested in seeking out this film. I hope this review has inspired
some needed attention towards the already under-seen and
under-appreciated Restless. I hope that the right
audience discovers this gem and that viewers can take the beautiful
message of the story to heart. This is one
of Gus Van Sant's finest directorial achievements and a remarkable
debut worth admiring by screenwriter Jason Lew.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.