Friday, March 09, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Restless (2011) **

PG-13, 91 min.
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Jason Lew
Starring: Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska, Ryo Kase, Schuyler Fisk

“Restless” starts out in a promising manner. Henry Hopper, son of Dennis, is a promising new star who engages the audience with his outcast loner who likes to crash funerals. The young man is obsessed with death for reasons that will be revealed later in the film. At one funeral he meets a girl named Annabelle, played by Mia Wasikowska of “Alice in Wonderland” fame. They immediately relate to each other’s atypical views on life.

Soon after they befriend each other she reveals that she has cancer. Soon after that she learns she has only three months to live. It is in dealing with Annabelle’s cancer where the movie doesn’t ring true. The romance between these two unique people is charming enough. The illness she suffers, however, is a movie illness that allows her to be fresh and ready to take on the world when she needs to be and only rears its ugly head when her boy toy needs some perspective. What’s even less realistic is that really only happens once during the course of their short relationship.

I wanted to enjoy this picture. It’s always fun to see fresh characters on the screen. I don’t understand, however, how so many screenwriters are so inexperienced with serious illnesses that they don’t realize they aren’t opportunities for a fresh take on life. Sure, it’s nice to believe that if you were to discover that you had only a limited time on this mortal coil you might capitalize on your hardship by living life like you never have before. But the reality is that you will live life like you never have before, and it will involve details that are more about death than life. The living that is done in the final days of a serious illness is not like you see in the movies. It involves breathing and bowel movements as major accomplishments, not finding that perfect person that you just couldn’t seem to find when you were distracted by life.

And, for the life of me, I can’t figure out how the title “Restless” is supposed to relate with this storyline.

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