Young, pretty Annabel (Mia Wasikowska) is dying of cancer. But the young, prettier Enoch (Henry Hopper – son of Dennis) lifts her spirits by letting Annabel accompany him to the funerals of strangers. Always a laugh, that.
Whimsy overload, I know, a kind of new-century Harold and Maude with both lovers being death-obsessed Harold. Jason Lew’s cloying script is a minefield of quirk and dark shadows. Did I mention Enoch’s parents died in a car crash? And wait for Hiroshi (Ryo Kase), Enoch’s BFF before Annabel – he’s the ghost of a kamikaze pilot. You heard me.
Before you stop reading this review and label Restless a must to avoid, let me remind you that the director is Gus Van Sant, who knows young love like nobody’s business. Check out My Own Private Idaho and Paranoid Park or any of the mesmerizing indie films Van Sant directs between mainstream Oscar projects such as Good Will Hunting and Milk.
Van Sant and his longtime cinematographer, Harris Savides, can caress the faces of youth with a poet’s eye for beauty and pain. And the two stars, shot amid the splendors of Van Sant’s beloved Oregon, make an ideal canvas. Wasikowska, from Alice in Wonderland to Jane Eyre, is an actress of translucent expressiveness. And Hopper has his father’s brooding intensity and a quicksilver humor all his own. They are both so good, I suggest you dive into the story unfolding in their eyes rather than the banal one in the script.