AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | October 17, 2011
Director: Jeremiah Jones
Writer: Jeremiah Jones
Starring: Christopher Denham, Connor Hill, Michael Mosley, Marianna Palka, Ivan Sandomire
To be perfectly honest, I might have to watch Restive a few more times before I can adequately comprehend what the heck is going on. But here I am, shortly after my first viewing of the film, attempting to hobble together a coherent review about a film that was so beautifully incoherent to me.
I will start with the puzzle pieces that I do understand. Jeva (Marianna Palka) is stuck in a menacingly terrifying relationship with Lott (Christopher Denham). Together, they have a young son, Hopper (Connor Hill)…and daughter too? Lott has reason to think Jeva has betrayed him. Soon, Jeva and Hopper find themselves running through the woods being chased by two of Lott’s hoodlum buddies, Braker (Michael Mosley) and Roo (Ivan Sandomire). Everything else is either too much of a spoiler to reveal or I need several more repeat viewings to attempt to make sense of it.
The narrative structure of Austin writer-director Jeremiah Jones’ debut feature is hypnotically transcendental, like a fever-speckled lucid dream. The eerily tranquil cinematography (John W. Rutland) and soundtrack (Ben Lukas Boysen) further accent Jones’ slow and tactful pacing, which intensifies only when the horrible — yet never gratuitous — violence unpredictably creeps into the story. Of course we expect violence to come from the evil patriarch; but it is when his oppressed wife is forced to fight for her life that human and motherly instinct push the narrative into some really dark places.
Personally, I enjoy when a film leaves me dazed and confused, especially when it is a purposeful tactic on behalf of the director in order to intensify the suspense — and this is exactly what Jones does with Restive. Even if confusion is not your ideal state of mind while watching a film, Restive is certainly worth watching for the impressively intense performances by Christopher Denham, Connor Hill, Michael Mosley, Marianna Palka, Ivan Sandomire.