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'Restless' reviews point to Gus Van Sant sitting out this Oscar season

May 12, 2011 | 12:55 pm

Restless The first sign of disappointment for two-time Oscar nominee Gus Van Sant’s latest film, "Restless," starring Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper, should have been that Cannes placed it in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, rather than in the main competition. Reviews of the teenage drama are in, and Cannes’ decision to “take a look” may have been generous.

The Guardian’s Andrew Pulver calls the movie, which centers on a quirky, death-obsessed teenager (Hopper, yes Dennis’ son) and his budding relationship with a brain tumor patient (Wasikowska), as “dramatically inert” with the lead characters lacking any kind of chemistry. Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter is much more pointed in his analysis, calling the film “the most banal and indulgent of Van Sant’s periodic studies of troubled kids, a treacly tale [that] comes off like an indie version of 'Love Story’ except with worse music.”

IndieWire is less definitive in its analysis, with Eric Kohn calling it “neither unwatchable nor particularly memorable, it mainly succeeds as a showcase for Van Sant’s younger collaborators.”

Others liked it more. Film School Rejects’ Simon Gallagher calls it an “engaging portrait of blossoming love,” while Anne Thompson at IndieWire says Van Sant “pulls off this Portland-based love story on such a small, delicate scale, without manipulating madly.”  

The film is produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment with Howard’s daughter, Bryce, co-producing the script by her NYU college pal Jason Lew. With no one yet over the moon on this release, which Sony Pictures Classics will debut this fall, it's doubtful we’ll be talking “Restless” come Oscar time.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper (yes, Dennis' son) in "Restless." Credit: Cannes Film Festival 

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