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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Restless | Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Restless

Death becomes Annabel (Mia Wasikowska).  The teen spends her free time at funerals, dressed in fetching retro styles and exuding a life force that belies her brain tumor.  Enoch (Henry Hopper, a blond, skinny version of his late father Dennis) dresses like an undertaker to attend funerals and memorials of people he doesn’t know.  His best friend Hiroshi (Ryo Kase) dresses in full kamikaze garb, absolutely unbeatable at Battleship.  No one can see Hiroshi but Enoch.

Annabel and Enoch form a friendship based on their fascination with death.  Enoch lost his parents in a car crash and never got to say goodbye to them.

The two fall into an urgent, zest-filled relationship that throws conformity by the wayside, bringing them both comfort and joy.  Annabel displays no self-pity, but Enoch is a conflicted soul.  Hiroshi tries to help him in his own way.

Hospital dates, staged death scenes, and morgue visits (in vintage clothes) fill Enoch and Annabel’s life.  Enoch is harboring an explosive, unresolved anger over the death of his parents.  He didn’t get to say goodbye.  His doomed relationship with Annabel allows him a tiny oasis of happiness, made more urgent by the lack of time.

Annabel’s mom Rachel (Lusia Strus) hits the bottle and her older sister Elizabeth (Sissy Spacek’s daughter, Schuyler Fisk) is left to face the responsibility of looking out for her sibling, who doesn’t seem to dwell on her fate.  Annabel simply celebrates her dwindling time with Enoch.  Hiroshi becomes an integral part of the long goodbye through sharing a long-held secret of his own.

Mia Wasikowska channels a youthful Mia Farrow as the retro-dressing Annabel, blessed with an ethereal countenance that makes her already other-worldly while still solidly in the flesh.  Henry Hopper is a brooding, sensitive, sentimental character in his own right and inhabits Enoch without so much as breaking a sweat.  Ryo Kase has an arresting screen presence that makes it easy to keep your eyes on him.

Director Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting) creates a love letter to death in the person of Annabel, who comforts Enoch’s unrest and anger with a graceful acceptance of her fate.  She and Hiroshi teach Enoch not to burn daylight without traveling very often to familiar territory.  Van Sant let’s us discover small, tender pockets of sweet surprise within the inevitable, advancing darkness.

Death is a personal talisman; as such it plucks a chord with people, summoning either sanguine acceptance or uncomfortable denial.  It’s an opponent that will always win, and as such, it evokes strong, knee-jerk feelings from viewers which could work against it.  Those who give it a chance will discover Gus Van Sant’s sparkling, eccentric love story to be a jewel of a film, each facet cut for color, clarity, insight, and appreciation for the ability to BE restless.

It means that you are, at least for the moment, truly alive.


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