Starring: Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska, Ryo Kase
Directed by: Gus Van Sant (“Milk”)
Written by: Jason Lew (debut)
If starring in a quirky, indie romantic comedy was something actress Mia Wasikowska (“The Kids Are All Right”) wanted to experience, she could’ve done a whole lot better than “Restless,” a hipster-wannabe teenage love story that gives “The Art of Getting By” some serious competition for the most annoyingly adorable schlock to hit theaters this year. Even Wasikowska lighting up every scene with her immense likeability can’t save “Restless” from torturing audiences with its pretentiousness.
The film feels so calculated, even the names of the lead characters sound like they were overanalyzed by first-time screenwriter Jason Lew. The lovebirds in this angst-filled feature are Enoch Brae (Henry Hopper) and Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska), two teens who meet at a funeral mass and decide they’re so darned unusual, they should spend the rest of Annabel’s life hanging out doing strange things like going on a date to a morgue and memorizing bird trivia.
See, Annabel is dying of brain cancer and only has three months to live. Since Enoch is intrigued by death (he spends his free time crashing funerals and talks to the ghost of a Japanese Kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi that he can only see) he volunteers his services to his new love interest.
“I know a lot about [death], so I can help you with stuff,” Enoch tells Annabel when she drops the news about her dwindling life span.
From here, the courtship between Enoch and Annabel becomes preposterous as they exchange philosophical ideas and run through grassy fields. Wisikowska does her best to keep the material genuine with her sweet performance, but Lew’s script and bloated dialogue is just too much to overcome, even for inconsistent albeit talented director Gus Van Sant (“Milk”).
Once Enoch pulls a Slinky from his jacket like any young “old soul” would do, imagining how much he probably got beat up in high school was a much needed perk for having to sit through the cliché, melodramatic disaster. If it’s any consolation, “Restless” is the perfect film for 16-year-old girls who wear old-lady glasses and 16-year-old boys who worship bands with names like Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. How much more emo can you get?