Friday, May 13, 2011

Nonetheless, A Happy Note

Friday, May 13, Day Three/ Afternoon

Again two films this morning, and one this late afternoon, though more on those later. Instead, a moment on the new film, Restless, by celebrated American Director Gus Van Zant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) on a screenplay by young Jason Lew, a film school friend of one of the producers. It stars the eminently successful Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) as a teen-aged cancer patient who's about to die. She pals up with a troubled young man, Enoch (Henry Hopper, son of the late Dennis), who hangs out at funerals and whose only friend is a ghost, a Japanese kamikaze pilot name Yoshi (Ryo Kase). Obviously, this is not realism, to say the least, and that has really bothered early reviewers, especially hard-bitten lovers of despair. Nor are these young friends particularly believable, proving all too witty, hip, and occasionally gooey. In other words, the tale clearly displays amplified lives and thus moves toward fable.

And this would be a bad jaunt if not for the infectiousness of the characters, all wonderful creations and finely acted. And all focuses on a jaunty thematic, the pleasure, even thrill of simply being alive, something the film contends is a pretty good gig even when death speeds and parents die in accidents. The young patient (Wasikowsk) relishes being alive, especially the marvel of birds and their endless adaptiveness. A big fan of Darwin, she skips the nastiness of "nature red in tooth and claw" for its endless inventiveness and elegance as function and stunning beauty. That sort of plain giddiness about the splendors of simple being, like breathing and seeing, well, perhaps that is passe.

Still, writer Lew doesn't quite know what to do with that and with death other than to quip that we're just a blip in random time, whether long or short. And he seems not to wonder about his elation or from whence it comes. Well, all that is, I guess, just a peculiar twitch in time. even though, as he contends, the birds sing every morning in exultant response to the recognition that they are still alive. Still, great credit is due Lew and Van Zant for picturing, albeit with some gush, one sizeable metaphysical clue to what humankind is for, both before and after Darwin.

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