Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!


MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements and brief sensuality.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Romance Drama
1 hr. 31 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 16, 2011 (limited)
DVD: January 24, 2012
Copyright, Columbia Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Death in the Bible

Funerals in the Bible


Where did cancer come from? Answer

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer


Suffering and pain

How did bad things come about? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

Final judgment

Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on Christian Answers—full-length motion picture.
Teen Qs—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Top choice for accurate, in-depth information on Creation/Evolution. The SuperLibrary is provided by a top team of experts from various respected creationist organizations who answer your questions on a wide variety of topics. Multilingual.
Featuring: Mia WasikowskaAnnabel
Jane Adams … Mabel Tell
Schuyler Fisk … Elizabeth Cotton
Henry Hopper … Enoch Brae
Lusia Strus … Rachel
See all »
Director: Gus Van Sant—“Good Will Hunting,” “Milk
Producer: Imagine Entertainment, 360 Pictures, See all »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

“Who do you live for?”

Filmmaker Gus Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting,” “Milk,” “Elephant”) typically tells stories of disenfranchised youth living in the margins of society. With his latest film, “Restless,” he continues in that tradition by focusing on two idiosyncratic teens who develop a friendship after meeting at a funeral.

Enoch (Henry Hopper, most notable for being the son of the late actor Dennis Hopper) is a loner dealing with grief brought on by the tragic loss of his parents in an auto accident. He deals with this by crashing funerals and playing chess with his best friend Hiroshi, whom we find out early on in the film is the ghost of a Japanese Kamikaze pilot. While attending a funeral, he has not been invited to, he exchanges a glance with kindred spirit Annabel (Mia Wasikowska—“Jane Eyre,” “Alice in Wonderland”) who likes to draw birds while hanging out at cemeteries and reading Darwin.

After a few chance meetings, Annabel confides in Enoch that she has terminal cancer and only has a few months to live. With this disclosure, Enoch takes it as his mission to make Annabel’s last months as memorable as possible.

“We have so little time to say any of the things we mean.” —Hiroshi

Now on the surface, a film about two teenagers that appear to be fixated on death would seem to be a real downer, however at the core of this film (originally given the more poetic and possibly fitting title “Winter and Water Birds” by first time screen writer Jason Lew) is a budding relationship of a couple using their final days together to squeeze as much out of life as possible. Though she is dying, Annabel doesn’t brood in misery, instead she embraces life with passion, and the young couple exude a spirit of whimsy and playfulness.

Typical to a Van Sant film, the vivid Oregon landscape provides a visual atmosphere that sets the tone of the film. The vibrant seasonal colors and rich textural backgrounds provide a canvas on which Van Sant stylishly places this young couple dealing with a very dark reality.

The film is rated PG-13, and its rating can be mostly attributed to its thematic content. Both characters are immersed in the shadow of death, and the film does not shy away from this topic, however it definitely doesn’t dwell in it and drifts along in a much lighter tone than comparable films of young teenagers dealing with love and their own mortality.

Annabel, in her playful zeal, parades around as if she just stepped off the screen as a younger version of Audrey Hepburn, and Enoch her stylish Cary Grant (though not as charming). Because they are making the best out of the limited time Annabel has, they are never caught up in the characteristic profanity filled conversations that you would expect from typical teenagers. There is one instance of a character uttering a compound, curse word. There is also an implied sex scene, but nothing is shown beyond kissing and waking up in bed together. The material that will most likely offend Christian audiences is Annabel’s reverence for Charles Darwin and her “naturalistic’ views. Though she does reference him and talks from a “naturalistic scientific” perspective when observing birds and insects, this is a minor element to the film that is used mostly as a catalyst to launch their friendship.

The film is a collaboration between Van Sant and actress/producer Bryce Dallas Howard who produced “Restless” in conjunction with Imagine Entertainment, the company founded by her father Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Although it is often the case on a movie with multiple creative partners that too many chefs ruin the meal, the collaborative effort of this artistic team take a subject that, on the surface, seems very cold and somber and paint a colorful portrait of a young couple embracing life.

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I thought this was a very well-crafted, well-casted, and original movie. I liked the quirkiness of the main characters. It had the kind of sad ending that I liked; where a person’s life is touched and made a little better by the character that died. I really liked how it ended with Enoch smiling, instead of crying at his friends” funeral, because he was remembering the good times they had together.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.