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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Restraint
Restraint
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // August 19, 2008
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Justin Felix | posted August 19, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Distributor Lionsgate is on a bit of a roll this August; the company is releasing several interesting genre movies from other countries here in the United States on home video. On their slate this month are the Belgian sci-fi thriller Artifacts and the collection of Spanish horror films 6 Films to Keep You Awake.

And this low budget Australian crime suspense film.

Titled Restraint (the title takes on several meanings over the course of the movie), this tale takes a noir-ish storyline and runs with the premise. While it does have some faults, Restraint works fairly well, offering a number of tense scenes and a resolution that's satisfying despite being a bit ambiguous.

Restraint follows the plight of two desperate and high-strung criminals, Ron and Dale (played by Travis Fimmel and Teresa Palmer). They've got a dead body in the trunk of their car, and Ron has shot a gas station attendant as well. To escape the inevitable manhunt, they find a lonely mansion to hide out in.

Unfortunately, this mansion is the home of Andrew (Stephen Moyer), a reclusive agoraphobic living off the wealth of his parents. They take him hostage and find the keys to his car. However, in an apparent attempt to stave off his own execution, Andrew convinces Ron and Dale that they could capitalize on his misfortune. Dale looks remarkably like Andrew's ex-fiancé, and if she were to dye her hair, Andrew promises them that she could start withdrawing cash from his trust fund at the bank. The plot works, so Ron and Dale decide to stay at the mansion for a longer period of time to keep tapping Andrew for riches.

However, Andrew seems to be hiding some secrets of his own. For one thing, his story about his fiancé leaving him doesn't seem to fit the facts (her clothes are still in the closet, her jewels in a safety deposit box, etc.). And, Andrew seems to be taking a shine to Dale, as she works on her imitation of Andrew's fiancé to continue collecting the cash deposits from his account at the bank. The characters basically become a love triangle - or maybe quadrangle if you take into account the fiancé - and the plot becomes a clever exercise in who's-playing-whom.

The acting in Restraint is generally pretty good, with Teresa Palmer turning in the best performance as Dale. Despite the machinations of the plot and her character, she comes off surprisingly sympathetic, and a less-convincing actress would have bungled the role. Palmer had a small role in The Grudge 2 and seems to be a promising young actress.

Coming off less well is Travis Fimmel, who overdoes his role as the psychotic killer Ron. It doesn't help that the script turns him into the "James Bond Villain" stereotype - he talks and talks and gloats and gloats over Andrew to an extreme in the second half of the film. Like a James Bond villain, he'd be successful if he'd just shoot - but then I guess there wouldn't be much of a movie.

The other fault lies in the script's rather absurd series of coincidences. Ron and Dale just happen to come upon Andrew's mansion when he's alone and apparently vulnerable. Dale just happens to look like Andrew's fiancé. The cops just happen to show up at the right times to increase the suspense of scenes. Et cetera. Et cetera.

Still, if you can forgive the movie's implausible plot and over-emotive villain, Restraint is an effective low budget thriller. The final scene is memorable - well-conceived visually and open to interpretation. It's a really nice closing shot.

Recommended.

The DVD

Video:

Restraint is given a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that is anamorphic. Colors look deliberately bleached, but the image is sharp.

Sound:

The lone audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1. Dialogue is always clear. The movie has limited sets and not many sequences that benefit from a dynamic mix, so it's a competent but routine audio presentation.

Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Extras:

When the disc is played, trailers precede the main menu for Bangkok Dangerous, The Spirit, Kitchen Privileges, Bram Stoker's Dracula's Guest, and Raising Jeffrey Dahmer. These trailers are also available through an Also From Lionsgate link in the Special Features menu. A separate link offers the trailer for Restraint.

In addition, Lionsgate provides Behind the Scenes of Restraint (8:15), a short featurette with the filmmakers discussing the project. It's not particularly in-depth - and scenes from the movie serve as filler / transitions between comments.

An Alternate Ending (7:10) extra is interesting.

Interviews with the Cast and Crew offers comments from David Denneen (director), Anna Fawcett (producer), and actors Travis Fimmel, Teresa Palmer, and Stephen Moyer. This is probably the best extra on the disc - although each individual's contribution is a separate video. It would have been nice to have a Play All option.

Final Thoughts:

If you can forgive its plot with some awfully convenient coincidences and a villain who doesn't know when to shut up and just act, you'll find Restraint to be an effective crime thriller from Australia with some tense scenes. Recommended.

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