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Cannes 2011: Gus Van Sant's 'Restless' finally sits down

May 12, 2011 |  8:07 pm

"Restless," Gus Van Sant's latest exploration of smart but troubled young people, has had a long road to the screen. Shot a year ago, the emo romance-cum-mortality study was supposed to play the Sundance Film Festival this year before it was yanked as the commercial release plan changed.

So it's understandable that the director would feel a certain measure of relief as the movie finally plays to an audience. At a dinner for his drama after it premiered as the opening-night movie in Cannes' Un Certain Regard section, Van Sant seemed to be exhaling now that the picture was finally rolling out.

"If a movie isn't released, it's one thing, but if you know it will be, it's nice to have closure and see it come out," he said in an interview. The film will open in the fall, and while the reviews have as a group not always been kind, the audience at the screening was mostly appreciative (though the movie didn't quite generate the same festival buzz as Van Sant's 2003 school-shooting movie "Elephant," which went on to win the Palme d'Or).

"Restless" stars the late Dennis Hopper's son Henry as the moody Enoch (in an eerie turn, the character is mourning the death of his parents) and a relationship he strikes up with the quirky and sunny Annie (Mia Wasikowska) who keeps her spirits up despite her likely imminent death from a terminal illness. It's a kind of modern spin on "Love Story"; you know the girlfriend is going to die, so the movie is mainly about what the couple does with the time remaining. (There's also a subplot involving the ghost of a kamikaze pilot, whom Enoch sees in fantasy sequences.)

At the dinner, Wasikowska told 24 Frames that while shooting "Restless," she was very aware of the footsteps the youthful romance was following and hoped to avoid the pitfalls along the way. "I find it very difficult as a teenager to connect to teen movies," she said, "But when I read [Jason Lew's] script, I thought it gave adolescence intelligence."

The movie also traffics in mortality themes, but  Wasikowska said she was impressed by how the filmmakers treated the subject of death. "I liked how [the script] handled the sentimental moments," she said. "A film doesn't need to be sappy to be moving."

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--Steven Zeitchik in Cannes, France


 Photo: Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper in "Restless." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

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