Restless

As limp as overcooked spaghetti noodles, this drama has to be a low point in the ever-wavering, oftexperimental directorial career of Gus Van Sant (“Milk”), because it feels as if it were created by tweens rather than grown men. Van Sant has recruited actors who play their teenaged characters as if they were half that age.

At one point, Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) notes the childish behavior, telling her new beau that he and his pal (imaginary, mind you) are “throwing rocks and acting like 2-year-olds!” Grow up, everybody. It’s too late before “Restless” rolls in locally, starting soon exclusively at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, but the movie could use further incubation, starting with its quirky-for-sake-of premise.

Grow up, everybody.

“Seen any good funerals lately?” asks Annabel (Wasikowska, as Mia Farrow as ever) to Enoch (Henry Hopper, son of Dennis), whose hobby since the death of his parents has been crashing memorial services of total strangers, because I guess that’s just what teenagers do nowadays. The kids meet at one she’s attending for reals; they bond over board games and whatnot; and she reveals that she’s a cancer patient with little time left to live. He reveals he is haunted by the ghost of a World War II pilot.

All the while, a “True Romance”-lite score bubbles up and twinkles over the soundtrack, to swathe an added layer of unnecessary whimsy.

This is the kind of indie film that gives indie films a bad name: all twee and precious, cloying and dainty. The script may have been cobbled together from a morose high schooler’s journal: “Death is easy. It is love that is hard.” It certainly puts its characters into suspect situations, such as Enoch visiting Annabel’s cancer doc and demanding, “Make her better!” Such a scene might be pulled off by a more skilled actor, but young Hopper has none of the belly fire as his dearly departed dad; the normally talented Wasikowska shows a bad hand, playing Annabel as if she’s been kicked on the head by a horse.

Although Van Sant has helmed several thesps to Academy Award nominations and wins, he seems not to have wrangled these two, and “Restless” collapses as a result, under the unbearable weight of its false sentiment.

Read exclusive DVD reviews of “The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway,” “The Ledge,” “Killer Party,” “Black Zoo” and more!

Rod Lott

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