Gus Van Sant doesn't make bad movies. Por isso achei estranho que no site Rottentomatoes seu novo filme aparecesse com só 36% de críticas positivas, ou seja, como "rotten". Como isso simplesmente não podia ser, procurei a crítica de A. O. Scott, do New York Times. Ela é positiva. Mas ainda mais positiva é a de Richard Brody, na New Yorker.
Não sei se o filme vai estrear ou se já passou pelos cinemas em POA. Lembrei dele hoje, folheando por acaso uma revista bobinha de novembro ou dezembro de 2011, onde era recomendado. Gosto de escrever as "críticas" eu mesmo, mas como não sei se vou poder ver o filme, posto o trailer e a crítica de Brody aqui, para quem tiver a chance de assistir.
"Restless" in Peace and War
Richard Brody, The New Yorker
To summarize Gus Van Sant’s new film, “Restless,” which opens tomorrow (and which David Denby wrote about in the magazine this week), is to invite laughter: Enoch (Henry Hopper), a teen-age boy who is obsessed with death, meets, at one of the many funerals he crashes, Annabel (Mia Wasikowska), a mortally ill girl, and they begin a relationship. Yet the backstory gives the young man a good reason to be death-obsessed—his parents both died in a car accident that also left him momentarily dead, and then in a three-month coma. And though the movie (like so many these days) runs on the emotional tangle and expressive frustration that results from not having gotten therapy at once, Van Sant extracts something wonderful from his somewhat contrived setup. All couples meet by a seeming miracle, and what brings this young pair together is less the way they think about death than the way they live. His real subject is the theatre of daily life—the mask and the costume, the assumed identity—as a formative and defining teen-age experience.
“I’ve always wanted you to admire my suffering” (as Kafka knew) is the fallback position for the adolescent not-quite-alpha male whose powers of invention get channelled instead into an elaborate (or, as Nietzsche might have said, priestly) ritual of abnegation, a theatre of self-denial that aims nonetheless at achieving the usual gratification (unless—and there’s another story—he internalizes his performance and takes its means as its ends: the portrait of the artist as a young dogmatist). Enoch is a type, but realized with a tender specificity. When he talks about death, he’s been there, and declares, with a roughly-earned existential anguish, that what awaits is indeed “nothing,” and the artificial fullness of his experience, or, rather, the filling-up of his existence with artifice, is his response to the void.
Enoch and Annabel share a love of role-play. They have thrift-shop Victorian wardrobes to die for, and their dress-up games and intricately scripted and staged playacting (done for their own pleasure, without spectators—except for Halloween) seem at one with the film’s Portland setting. As photographed by Harris Savides, it seems draped with Gothic vines and yet serene with a soft, enveloping light. Capturing a pair of smart and original kids in an ordinary town (i.e., not in the high-culture pressure cooker of New York or the hip milieu of Hollywood), Van Sant suggests that the unpopulated expanses, the proximity of nature’s sublime otherness, offer them a richer and stranger cauldron of fantasy, a larger and more malleable inner stage for it. He’s after nothing less than the very nature of the American imagination, its source in the land—and its morbid, violent roots.
There’s a strange sidebar to the action, and trouble in paradise—Hiroshi (Ryo Case), the living image of a gentle, ironic Japanese kamikaze pilot from the Second World War whose presence Enoch conjures. (What’s next, a musical twist on the Bataan Death March?) Van Sant’s view of him is startlingly benign and ahistorical (though a brief atomic-bomb montage suggests that, by comparison, he finds the Imperial Army’s suicide fighters unexceptionable); in any case, the boy’s fascination with martial ritual (purged of politics and nationalism) reflects his own struggles with violence and, for that matter, his own methods of auto-therapy.
Whether Hiroshi is Enoch’s imaginary friend or, for that matter, imaginary lover is never clarified; the suggestion is enough. Van Sant’s forthright approach to gender continuity, free-ranging desire, and possible exploration—amplified by the casting and the costuming that give Enoch and Annabel the same short and floppy haircuts and the same slender physiques—is all the more relevant to his vision of malleable identity.
The subject is in the air. Some of the best films of the year to date, such as “The Future,” “Bellflower,” “The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye,” and even “Certified Copy” have confronted it, as does the forthcoming “Silver Bullets,” which I’ll revisit later. (It’s worth adding now that it shares something else with “Restless”: the fascinating presence, in a supporting role, of Jane Adams.)