‘Restless’, on Netflix, is a frustrating film to watch. The initial glimmer of hope is shaped by a trying moral dilemma for Thomas: tend to an internal investigation of his precinct’s actions, or attend his mother’s funeral. In its midst, his misery is further compounded after he inadvertently runs over a man. Although he barely “takes care” of it, a mysterious blackmailer raises fear of the truth coming out. The opening sequence instantly reminds one of ‘Locke‘. The single location trope has now become an influential narrative tool. ‘Locke’ first dabbled with it and came out a winner. ‘Restless’ seemed to be going on that path, only to choose the more conventional one. And might I add, disappointingly so.

This French film is a mix of genres. It tries to carve out a morally skewed tale about a tormented cop by setting up an intricate plot but eventually fails to do either. From the start, it appears to have a strong flavour of dark comedy that has done so well recently. Such was the promise that it seemed like a central theme. After a couple of interesting attempts, it swiftly dies down, leaving behind a formless and substanceless froth incapable of amounting to anything meaningful.

Restless 2022 Netflix

Most of the direction feels derivative and filler-like. Regis Blondeau, the director of the film, tries to borrow bits and pieces from modern classics to create an uncompelling mess. There is no clarity in what he does and how he handles the moving parts of his story. The storytelling is toothless and without purpose. Structurally, the setup is the only technical part that stands the test of time. Everything else seems to crumble as the moments pass on. To explain the situation in a more accessible way, imagine something along the lines of this drawing of a horse.

Hence, Restless’ plot comes across as very muddled. That is one thing but what is even more disappointing is that the film impedes any emotional connection with its protagonist. The portrayal of his circumstances is almost soulless. Blondeau’s lack of experience and skill shows dearly in this regard. For a man grieving his mother’s death, his career on the line, and having committed a blatant hit and run, Thomas hardly seems to register the events.

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The above forms the core conceit of ‘Restless’. They are collectively its unique selling proposition. But there is a gap between how these themes develop. Thomas is asked to do so many things, he can barely do any of them properly. His relationship with his mother, his daughter Louise, his partner Marc; no threads are followed through. What is supposed to be the ethos for the tone of the film turns into a gnawing reminder of its inadequacy.

Coming to the performances, hardly any stood out to the level you expect them to. Simon Abkarian’s Marelli is a joyous exception from this generalization. His entry brought rigour and sharpness to the film. Despite being ambiguously written, Abkarian makes the most of this opportunity. His conviction and attitude are infectious. Unfortunately, it does not seem to rub off on the other ensemble. Frank Gastambide (Thomas) delivers a flat performance. With so much riding on his shoulders, his act is surprisingly disappointing. He finds it difficult to emote and capture his character’s state of mind. A lot of this can be attributed to Blondeau’s ineffective guidance, but the blame rests on Gastambide’s part. The others do not get enough minutes to make a credible assessment.

‘Restless’ end product is a timid one. I did not find anything memorable or enduring that would stay with me post the watch. Even as a one-time watch, I lost interest somewhere in between. There are key learnings for young filmmakers aspiring to use tension in the film’s unique mould. But those are mostly things that they ought not to do. The jigsaw of different ingredients spoils the broth. The chef, who is supposed to take measured calls on the taste and flavour, both overdoes and under. The haphazard preparation is definitely an unsavoury one. Netflix has sadly missed the mark with this one. Suggest you skip this one.

Restless official Trailer

Restless Links: IMDb, Netflix
Cast: Franck Gastambide, Simon Abkarian, Michaël Abiteboul, Tracy Gotoas

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