Directed by Gus Van Sant
Review by Thomas W. Campbell
On September 14, 2011 I did a Q and A with Gus Van Sant following the NBR screening of his film Restless. Van Sant is a thoughtful and caring man who enjoys discussing film and the creative process as much as anyone I have met. He was particularly interested in praising his young actors for their daring and intuitive approaches to their work.
Restless, Gus Van Sant’s new film, opens with a series of shots revealing a somewhat overcast Portland, Oregon as the bouncy Beatle’s song “Two of Us” is heard on the soundtrack. At first the song seems a mysterious choice, with it’s chorus about “going home”. Neither character we are about to meet is in any process of going home–if anything they are preparing to leave their home for new experiences. But the song is about two people “Sunday driving, not arriving, on our way back home.” This perfectly fits Van Sant’s gentle but unsentimental view of life–especially as lived by the young. This is a story about two people who find each other–who “Sunday drive and don’t arrive” – but home is not part of their lives. It’s something they might dream about, knowing they will never really be there.
Restless is based on a short play by Jason Lew that was developed into a children’s book, before finally becoming a script. It landed on Van Sant’s desk via producer Dallas Bryce Howard and is a stripped-down story that takes some gentle but surprising turns as the characters are challenged by the tragic circumstances of their own lives.