Thursday, October 6, 2011
Restless Not for everyone
“Restless” an Offbeat Romance Not for Everyone
By Skip Sheffield
Perhaps it takes a near-death experience to fully appreciate “Restless.” This very offbeat young romance is preoccupied with death, near-death, and what it means to be fully alive.
A couple of my writing colleagues felt it was boring, self-consciously arty and disconnected from conventional reality.
I on the other hand was quite drawn in to this far-fetched tale of doomed love, written by Jason Lew and directed by Gus Van Sant.
“Restless” marks the screen debut of the late Dennis Hopper’s son Henry. Hopper plays Enoch Brae, an alienated high school drop-out who has been in shock and withdrawal from ordinary life since both his parents were killed in a car crash he alone survived.
Enoch lives with his Aunt Mable (Jane Adams) who has moved into his parents’ house to take care of him.
It’s a thankless task for poor Mabel. It would be easy just to brand Enoch as a self-absorbed, self-pitying brat, but what Enoch has going for him is his imagination. Enoch’s best friend is imaginary: a dead Japanese Zero pilot named Hiroshi (Ryo Kase).
Hiroshi is a very friendly ghost, and he is Enoch’s best and only real friend until he meets a pretty young woman at a funeral. Enoch has the macabre habit of attending funerals of people he doesn’t even know.
To most people this would be pretty creepy, but not to Annabelle (the peerless Mia Wasikowska). Death is very much on her mind, because she has a tumor on her brain that will kill her within three months.
I never liked “Love Story,” which had a similar weepy scenario, or “Terms of Endearment,” which was also moving but manipulative.
The character of Annabelle is no typical victim or object of abject pity. Annabelle has accepted the fact that death is a natural part of life. Unlike a victim of accidental death she knows what is in store. Instead of wallowing in despair she is determined to live every day she has left to its fullest; like the songbird who every nightfall thinks he has died, only to awake every morning singing a joyous song of rebirth.
Those of us who have faced the end and emerged miraculously on the other side know there is a clear choice on how to live life. Like Annabelle’s character, who admires Darwin and sees the incredible beauty of nature in everything around her, I choose to be grateful and glad to be alive.
Corny? You bet! “Restless” maybe be sentimental and unbelievable, but it is a fantasy I embrace, and these two fantastic young actors beautifully embody that fantasy.