Cannes 2011: Restless first reaction

After winning the Palme d’Or in 2003 for his Columbine-inspired arthouse flick Elephant , Gus Van Sant returned to Cannes today with another troubled-kid drama – Restless .

Kicking off the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, the film follows a death-obsessed teen (Henry ‘son of Dennis’ Hopper) who crashes other folks’ funerals and is best mates with the ghost of a WW2 kamikaze pilot.

It’s at one of these memorials that he meets Annabel (Mia Wasikowska), a cancer sufferer with whom he strikes up a relationship. You can pretty much guess where it goes from here.

Make no mistake, this is not the Van Sant we were expecting. Eschewing the edge and rawness of his former festival winner, Restless sits much more in the Good Will Hunting category.

Featuring a cloying acoustic score from Danny Elfman, Restless is often too twee for its own good, with a disappointingly predictable and overly saccharine final act.

Having said that, it’s certainly no disaster – the film is beautifully shot, while its two young leads make for a believable couple that you can’t help but root for.

Wasikowska is definitely the standout here, though, giving a fragile yet quirky performance that will still have plenty of lumps in throats and could well gift her a Best Actress nomination come Oscar time.

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