Famed director Gus Van Sant mostly dropped the ball in this often amateurish seeming offbeat story of a depressed, disillusioned and troubled young man, Enoch Brae, who largely gives up on life due to his grief after his parents are killed in an automobile accident. He develops a strange fascination with death and crashing funerals and meets a terminally ill cancer patient, Annabelle Cotton, forming a love relationship. And that’s mostly what works with this movie. What doesn’t work is the idiotic relationship with the ghost of dead Japanese Kamikaze pilot by the Enoch Brae character or the sometimes thin acting and often high school film class amateurish film directing of Gus Van Sant in this movie. As usual, top flight actress Mia Wasikowska, turns in a very good performance, which seems almost remarkable considering the often very silly premise of the movie that she was forced to work with. What could have been a half decent tragic love story is badly damaged by the absurd plot subline of the dead Kamikaze pilot as well as directing and filmmaking by Gus Van Sant that strangely proves little skill at all. The kamikaze character isn’t even interesting, and you gasp each time he appears, only to further ruin this badly flawed film.
Gus Van Sant helped to manage to lose millions of dollars of production money for Brian Glazer, Ron Howard and his daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, when he encouraged these other movie production greats to join him in producing this film that’s often a stinker, although there are a but a few good moments. The good moments are often very good, but the poor moments are very poor.
What was also amazing was how long it took Gus Van Sant and the film editors to edit this film. It went on for months without a seeming end, and much of the footage they shot was never used. My own Clinton market, a historic nearly 100 year old grocery business was used in the filming of this movie, where a huge crew of cameramen and lighting specialists and grips, etc. were used for two scenes not used in the film. Gus Van Sant sure knows how to waste not only his own money, but other people’s money as well.
All of this is not to say that this film doesn’t have a few good things about it. But, those seem to be very few compared to the major problems it has. When RESTLESS finally opened in theaters, few bothered to offer it, and at last glance this film burned up $8 million in production money, but returned just $157,022 from the very few theaters in which this film quickly opened and then closed. Some theaters must had all of 8 or 11 people buy tickets at this rate.
The Bottom Line: Famed director Gus Van Sant takes a giant step backward as a filmmaker with this awful little film. Gus Van Sant goes from a major independent film directing icon back to the minors with this thoroughly disappointing and bizarre mess of a film. **(Two stars or only just fair. Miles below good. A friend of mine was only able to watch 20 minutes of this film before turning it off. I unfortunately watched the whole thing. Sadly, that’s 91 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. But, let’s hope that Gus Van Sant isn’t influenced to make a film about that tragedy. Next time that Gus Van Sant asks someone for millions to produce a film, they need to seriously look at the script. Apparently no one did for this turkey).
Meeting the cast of RESTLESS was a very good experience. They were so nice. But, those kids can’t help what Gus Van Sant wrought here. Meeting these nice young actors was far better than the splitting headache I got from watching the actual finished Gus Van Sant product.
I had a strong personal interest in wanting so much for this to be a very good film, because of the contribution of my grocery store to the film. It was sad to see those scenes on the cutting room floor. But, regardless of that, this film was way beyond disappointing upon it’s completion. In terms of your average film, this movie was way below average. Watch it if you dare.