Release Date: December 1
Restless is a sensitive teenage consideration of death that every parent and Gen-Y pundit would do well to consider.
Henry Hopper plays Enoch Brae, a troubled teen who has taken to spectating at strangers’ funerals. His parents have died years earlier in a tragic car accident. Now he stands at the back of eulogy after eulogy looking for some meaning. At one service he meets Annabel Cotton (Mia Wasikowska), a girl he discovers is focusing on her own funeral.
Annabel has an inoperable brain tumor that will end her life inside of three months. Enoch is more accepting of her demise than anyone she knows – not surprising given he spent three minutes dead and three months in a coma after the accident that shattered his family. But what death took away with one hand, it gave back with another. Enoch awoke to find the ghost of Hiroshi Takahashi (Ryo Kase), a young Japanese kamikaze pilot sitting on the end of his bed. Together they form an unlikely trio, each seeking to come to terms with death and what comes next.
Restless is well named for the curiosity that consumes each character. Though the film displays all the classic responses to death – displacement, humour, denial and anger –it is ultimately the teenagers’ longing to understand what their lives mean in the face of this one undeniable fact that generates the film’s drama. Enoch struggles to understand death’s cruelty; Hiroshi wonders what he has gained by embracing it; Annabel looks for the beauty its shadow helps define. And in the end, this is the attitude that they all choose to embrace. Spending too much time focusing on death will rob you of the joy of living. Very early on in the film Annabel tells Enoch that it is his insistence on wearing black that makes it so hard for him to blend in at funerals:
Annabelle: The black was the giveaway. No one nears black any more. You’re supposed to wear bright colours.
Annabelle: It’s depressing
Now all of this might sound very familiar, and of course it is. Funerals today seldom spend much time talking about the bitterness of death. They have become celebrations of life rather than sober considerations of what comes next. But there are a few encouraging things Christians can note.
Firstly all of the teenage characters are comfortable with the idea of a spiritual existence after death. Generation Y has looked on the atheistic ‘this is all there is’ philosophy and found it not only unpalatable but unlikely. Secondly there is hope for those parents who wonder if their children have heard anything they have to say about the important things in life. One of the most endearing moments of the film is when Enoch introduces Annabel to his parent’s through a playful chat with their headstone. They laugh but their responses make it clear that, though mum and dad are gone, the Enoch is in no doubt what his parents would have said. Restless doesn’t amount to a Christian consideration of death and the path Jesus provides beyond it by any means, but it does reveal that the current generation are open to the conversation and likely to remember what you say.