Restless [Tribeca Festival Review]

When I was in my twenties, I lived in an apartment building, right above a guy who liked to blast music at top volume in the middle of the night. He was especially fond of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” Let me tell you, having that song rouse you from a sound sleep is like waking up in the middle of Apocalypse Now. After repeated attempts to politely address the matter with the guy, to no avail, I began looking for passive-aggressive ways to make his life miserable, like making excessive noise when I knew he was trying to sleep. I tell you this because I profoundly related to the sleep-deprived main character of Restless. The film screened in the Viewpoints section of the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival.

Nicky (Lyndsey Marshal) is a shy, single woman living in a duplex. A new neighbor moves into the other half. He’s Deano (Aston McAuley). Every night, he and his buddies crank techno music at deafening levels and engage in loud drunken revelry, making it impossible for her to sleep. She first tries asking him nicely to have a little consideration. Despite assurances that he will, Deano continues to exhibit boorish behavior. The less sleep Nicky gets, the more aggressive her interactions with him become. Tension between them escalates to dangerous levels.

One of the most admirable things about Restless is that it doesn’t go where you assume it will. There’s an obvious, cliched outcome to the central predicament. Writer/director Jed Hart avoids that, going for something wittier and more satisfying. Suspense is ratcheted up at regular intervals, particularly after Nicky’s cat goes missing and she automatically blames Deano. The way the story resolves itself contains a sense of schadenfreude that feels perfect.

Marshal and McAuley make a dynamite pair onscreen. She believably morphs Nicky from a timid woman to someone just barely in control of her actions; he gives Deano just enough charisma to help you understand why his obnoxiousness is easily overlooked by his friends. Tension between them drives the film, keeping you on edge from start to finish.

Sleep deprivation has long been utilized as a torture technique. Restless effectively depicts the psychological impact it has on Nicky. It’s the kind of thriller that feels 100% plausible, which makes it creepy on a whole other level. Nicky could be you or me.

Restless


Restless is unrated, but contains strong language, drug content, and some violence. The running time is 1 hour and 29 minutes.


© 2024 Mike McGranaghan