Restless is a heartwarming romantic drama about a teenage boy with the ghost of a kamikaze pilot for a friend and a strange hobby of attending memorial services. When he meets terminally ill Annabel and falls in love, he learns about life and love and grows to respect the dead, including his deceased parents.
Restless has a beautiful poetic feel that is largely due to the stunning cinematography and slow pace. Mia Wasikowska plays terminally ill Annabel flawlessly and exudes an admirable positivity that makes the film uplifting and warm. It’s a story of young love first and foremost, and doesn’t dwell on the themes of death. It’s very similar to My Sister’s Keeper and is very reminiscent of the unfortunately under-watched Mr Rice’s Secret, a 2000 film starring David Bowie. Both of those films deal with terminal illness in a positive and uplifting and very warm way.
With very eclectic costumes, it’s hard to tell when Restless is actually set. It has an almost timeless feel to it which is fantastically well created; it could easily be set in the 50s, but at the same time doesn’t look out of place as a contemporary film. The cars parked in the street in one of the shots suggest either a continuity error, or that it’s set in the present, and the hospital scenes feel very contemporary, but there is a lack of technology; for example the characters never use mobile phones or watch TV. This gives it such a lovely and poetic atmosphere, and again makes it feel timeless, which of course; love is.
The performances of both lead actors Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper are fantastic, they’re both very charismatic and they had a wonderful chemistry. The idea of one of the characters being friends with the ghost of a kamikaze pilot doesn’t seem ridiculous at all and it’s very cleverly done, the relationship between Enoch and Hiroshi is quite similar to that of Omri and Little Bear in The Indian in the Cupboard , it has an innocence to it that’s warm and believable despite the somewhat daft idea, and their friendship adds depth to the characters.
No doubt a brilliantly uplifting film for anyone going through a similar situation, Restless is a beautiful film all round, dealing with the theme of death tactfully and positively. Although it might bring a lump to your throat, it’s surprisingly not sad; it has a positivity and warmth to it that avoids it becoming a tragedy, and is an easily accessible and enjoyable film for all ages.