Restless (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 25, 2012 by  

Captivating and beautiful, Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” is a heartfelt film and a unique take on mortality  featuring a wonderful performance by actress Mia Wasikowska.

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TITLE: Restless


DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Defiition (widescreen 1:85:1), English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG-13 (Thematic Elements and Brief Sensuality)

Release Date: January 24, 2012

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Written by Jason Lew

Executive Producer: Eric Black, David Allen Crress, Frank Mancuso Jr.

Producer: Brian Grazer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard

Co-Producer: Brett Cranford

Music by Danny Elfman

Cinematography by Harris Savides

Film Editing by Elliot Graham

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Anne Ross

Art Direction by Benjamin Hayden

Set Decoration by Sara Parks

Costume Design by Danny Glicker


Henry Hopper as Enoch Brae

Mia Wasikowska as Annabel Cotton

Ryo Kase as Hiroshi Takahashi

Schuyler Fisk as Elizabeth Cotton

Luisia Strus as Rachel Cotton

Jane Adams as Mabel

Paul Parson as Edward

From acclaimed director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) comes a quirky, coming-of-age love story between a young man (Henry Hopper) who has given up on life and a beautiful, charming young girl (Mia Wasikowska) who possesses a deep-felt love of life and the natural world. When these two outsiders chance to meet at a funeral, they find an unexpected common ground in their unique experiences of the world. Produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Bryce Dallas Howard and Gus Van Sant.

Captivating and beautiful, Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” is a heartfelt film and a unique take on mortality  featuring a wonderful performance by actress Mia Wasikowska.

Gus Van Sant is known for films such as “Milk”, “”Good Will Hunting” but also taking on youth-based films such as “Elephant”, “Finding Forrester”, “My Own Private Idaho” and “Mala Noche”.

And once again, Van Sant takes on a youth film but this time, a storyline that revolves around “death”.  Directed by Van Sant and written by Jason Lew, “Restless” is a film that stars Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre”, “The Kids Are All Right”, “Alice in Wonderland”), the film debut of actor Harry Hopper and Ryo Kase (“Tokyo Rendezvous”, “Letters from Iwo Jima”).

“Restless” is a film about a young man named Enoch Brae (played by Henry Hopper).  Enoch is a young man who has had a hard time dealing with the death of his parents and has dropped out of school, talks to his only friend which is a ghost of a young kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi Takahashi (played by Ryo Kase) and for some reason, Enoch constantly attends people’s funerals.

One day, while attending a funeral, he meets a young woman named Annabel Cotton.  At first, she tells him that she works with children that have cancer but the truth is, she has cancer and only three months to live.

And for these two quirky teenagers, despite Annabel’s few months to live, he accepts her death and she accepts his unusual side and both fall in love.

But when Annabel’s death becomes a reality for Enoch, how will this young man eventually deal with another person close to him dying?


“Restless” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) and for its overall picture quality, while the cinematography by Harris Savides  (“American Gangster”, “Zodiac”, “The Game”, “Milk) is fantastic and one again, utilizing warmer colors, there is a bit of experimentation used by both Savides and also Gus Van Sant in creating this softer look towards the film.  The look of the film is intentional but my perspective of the look of the film sort of matches the quirky relationship between the two protagonists.  Nothing is perfect in their world but yet these two individuals where one is about to die and one was awakened from death are able to come together.  The look is not exactly dream-like but I felt the colors, the softness worked with this type of film.


“Restless” is a dialogue driven film but it’s also a film with a lot of cool music and also music composed by Danny Elfman (“The Night Before Christmas”, “Batman”, “Corpse Bride”, “The Simpsons”) and another collaboration with Gus Van Sant (as the two have worked together on “Good Will Hunting”).   While the film does feature ambience during crowd-based scenery and natural environments as both Enoch and Annabel are outdoors with each other near a creek or areas with a lot of vegetation (thus the sounds of insects and birds), the dialogue and music is probably the most dominant piece of this entire film.  I did enjoy the music soundtrack for this film but for the most part, this film is center and front channel driven.

Subtitles are in English and English SDH.


“Restless” comes with the following special features:

  • Gus Van Sant’s Silent Version of Restless – After the completion of filming various scenes of “Restless”, Van Sant instructed his actors to also do a different version for a silent movie version with intertitles.  Included as a special feature is the silent film version.
  • Enoch & Annabel: One Love – (6:20) The cast and crew of “Restless” talk about the movie , its storyline and characters.
  • Enoch & Hiroshi: The Best of Friends – (4:06) A featurette that explains Hiroshi’s origins in the film and his role.
  • Gus Van Sant: Independent Voice – (6:05) The cast and crew talk about working with director Gus Van Sant.
  • Being Restless – (9:50) A featurette that shows us how the film became to be.  From the production of the film, the making of the silent version of “Restless” and more.
  • Coming to Life: This is Restless – Screenwriter Jason Lew and Producer Bryce Dallas Howard talk about the film’s story, the cast of the film and more.
  • Deleted Scenes – (8:39) Featuring three deleted scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:14) The theatrical trailer for “Restless”.


“Restless” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.

“Restless” is a film that deals with death, understanding and coming to accept it.

In the case of Enoch, a young man who’s parents were killed in an accident by a drunk driver and his life was spared, having died for a few minutes and being brought to life, he finds it difficult to understand the concept of death and thus he attends funerals in hopes it would help him come to terms with it.

Annabel is a young woman who has come to terms with her cancer and that she has only three months to live and thus, these two quirky individuals were brought together and essentially, her pending death makes him understand death but also the importance of having memories of one’s happier moments.  For Annabel, it’s to have someone to share her love and have her first and final romance, no discussion of her death or cancer but to experience that time together.

We are also given a third character, Hiroshi who is more or less, a guardian angel to Enoch and while not implicit that he must help Enoch through his troubled time in order to complete his job, the viewer begins to learn throughout the film that he is more than just a “ghost”.   There is no explaining by Van Sant of why this character is in the film (or why he speaks perfect English), but fortunately for those who were confused, there is a special feature on the special bond that Enoch and Hiroshi had with each other and why his character is quite important for this film.

While we have seen similar quirky couples arise from tragic circumstances such as the 1993 film “Benny & Joon” which the storyline worked very well, the problem that many critics had with “Restless” is that it deals less with the drama and that a young woman such as Annabel is very prepared for death and if anything, Enoch is still reeling from his parent’s death.  The focus on their relationship is no discussion of her cancer or death but the two experiencing quality time together.

In someway, I can identify with this film because my mindset was similar to both Enoch and Annabel in the fact that I have approached the death of family members the first time, grieving and not understanding (like Enoch) and the second time around, with acceptance (like Annabel) that they were religious and they go on to a better place and that one has had a quality life, no matter how short or long of life they had.  It’s definitely a religious look at life and one’s interpretation of death and when it comes to this film, I’m sure people with different religious upbringings or no upbringing will come away from this film with a different opinion.

Sure, the film could have become more emotionally dramatic and had Annabel realizing that she wants’ to live and not die but wouldn’t that be too banal?  Done many times before in cinema?  If anything, similar to like the quirkiness of “Benny  & Joon”, I enjoyed the quirkiness of Enoch and Annabel.  Two souls brought together by fate and in essence, helping each other even though their relationship was for a short time.  Quality vs. quantity, acceptance and understanding… it’s how I viewed “Restless” overall.

And I look forward to seeing more of Dennis Hopper’s son Henry grow as an actor and as for Mia Wasikowska, there is no doubt in my mind that this actress is going to have an even more impressive career in the next few years.  Her performance in this film was fantastic!

As for the Blu-ray release of “Restless”, as a huge silent film fan, it was wonderful to see Gus Van Sant make a second version of this film but via a silent film with intertitles and music.  It was a surprise to see this included as a special feature and for the most part, along with the other special features of this film, it made me enjoy this Blu-ray release even more!

“Restless” may not be as deep when it comes to drama compared to previous Gus Van Sant films but I’ve always looked at Van Sant as a filmmaker who tries to find a medium between mainstream cinema and arthouse films.  He may have won two Academy Awards for “Good Will Hunting” and most recently for “Milk” but it’s when he does something unexpected, we can often spot his creative brilliance.

Some may wonder if the fillmmaker is to occupied with films that are about death, may it be “Gerry”, “Elephant” or “Last Days” but what I enjoyed about “Restless” is the fact that it’s a film that is not to heavy, not too dark, not violent but mostly a film that shows us the fine balance between life and mortality… understanding and acceptance.

I know others who have found “Restless” emotionally simplistic, too upbeat of a film about mortality and while I do feel i is not the best Van Sant film, I still found “Restless” to be beautiful and entertaining.

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