Certainly there have been worse screen portrayals of bipolar than The Restless, which is largely inoffensive despite its reliance on stereotypes. Instead it feels like a frustrating missed opportunity, consistently opting for melodramatics whenever it needs to seriously explore its subject matter.
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It’s a film that oozes clear-eyed empathy and has the lived-in feel of a story, director and cast working in strong harmony.
The storyline is so predictable, in fact, that despite Lafosse’s skills at crafting a scene the narrative simply leaves you wanting. The actors, on the other hand, carry most of your attention because they simply have to.
Lafosse administers the tension like a seasoned anesthetist who knows exactly what dose to deliver, keeping us on the edge of our seats but never resorting to cheap tricks or unlikely twists. It’s stressful and harrowing because it all feels so real.
In narrative terms it never really develops any of its characters or relationships, yet its two utterly heartfelt lead performances make this a grimly authentic spectacle.
It’s not one of those filmmaking-as-therapy grudge sessions, but a wrenchingly fair-minded look at complicated family dynamics.
Both actors are riveting in this sad duet, and Lafosse isn’t much interested in giving them a facile reconciliation. Everything is hard in The Restless, a potent drama that never quite succumbs to dread but always keeps it close at hand.
An impressively nuanced portrait of the three-way relationship between a man, a woman and his disease.