Only Van Sant could have pulled off this Portland-based love story on such a small, delicate scale, without manipulating madly. His touch is sure. Anne Thompson
Now that it has been well established that Gus Van Sant is secretly French, we can move onto other news, such as the positive reception Restless, his latest feature, received at Cannes. If you have a subscription to Variety ( I don’t – wish I did), you can read a review there. Here’s what Deadline.com had to say about Restless opening the Un Certain Regard competition:
The second-most-important, and actually edgier, competition at Cannes got under way Thursday night with the premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Restless, which deals with a young kid (played by 20-year-old Henry Hopper, son of the late Dennis Hopper) who regularly likes to cruise cemeteries and attend funerals of strangers. There he meets a spirited young terminal cancer patient played by Mia Wasikowska and falls in love. By comparison with the downer material on display so far at the Palais, this was a fun time at the movies.
Actually, it’s a sweet dissertation on life and death beautifully acted by Hopper and Wasikowska. Originally it was going to premiere at Sundance and then be released by Columbia Pictures, but things changed as the major studio’s sister specialty division, Sony Pictures Classics, grabbed it from the mother ship, cancelled that Sundance screening and submitted it to Cannes, where fest director Thierry Fremaux decided to put it in as the opening-night slot of Un Certain Regard. It was a bit of a surprising decision since Van Sant, a former Palme d’Or winner for Elephant, is a favorite of the main division.
But the two competitions are becoming almost interchangeable in terms of quality pictures, and the engaging Restless was well received by the full house at tonight’s premiere screening. Van Sant, a man of few words, and his screenwriter Jason Lew and producer Bryce Dallas Howard (Dad Ron’s Imagine was the production company) were joined by Wasikowska and Hopper in the packed Claude Debussy auditorium.
At the elegant after-party dinner at Le Cote, Van Sant told me his horror story of how he almost didn’t even make it to the South of France. He was shooting his first-ever TV show (as exec producer) Boss in Chicago for the Starz cable channel and was going to fly to London and then here. One problem though: He forgot his passport back in hometown Portland, Ore. The oversight was just discovered yesterday and so a friend grabbed it, flew cross-country to give it to Van Sant and accompanied him to France. The frazzled publicists had to postpone all his interviews until Friday, but he DID make it barely in time for his premiere.