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Tribeca: Do You Have a Neighbor From Hell? ‘Restless’ Is the Movie for You

By Sara Clements | Film | June 24, 2024 |

By Sara Clements | Film | June 24, 2024 |


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Life is a constant grind, and the few moments of relaxation we get are precious. We all need our downtime. What we don’t need are loud neighbors disrupting that. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those neighbors from hell. Those neighbors that blast their music at all hours of the night, or those that don’t know how to walk properly without stomping. Whatever the situation, we’ve all thought about what we’d do to stop the noise. Those thoughts probably got pretty dark a few times, but like the main character in Jed Hart’s Restless, you’d do anything for even just a minute of silence. A psychological thriller, with delightful moments of dark humor, Restless captures this experience as a new neighbor drives a woman toward insanity. Hell hath no fury like a sleep-deprived middle-aged mom.

Nicky (Lyndsey Marshal) has gone through a lot of changes these last few years. The single mother lost both her parents soon after one another, and now her only child is off to college. She’s mourning in a couple of different ways, and she may often feel loneliness settling in, but she loves her alone time. Her parents used to live next door, but now with them and her son gone, the only interaction she has with people is at work. Working at an understaffed senior care facility means that she’s overworked, overtired, and gets very few moments of downtime. She makes those moments count, though. There’s a scene where she gleefully bakes a cake while listening to classical music. She then indulges in the baked goods while watching TV. Before bed, she listens to a meditative, sleep-aid podcast.

Suddenly, her peaceful nights are interrupted by the sound of booming music - new neighbors have moved it. Dean (Aston McAuley) is loud, obnoxious, and has parties that go all night long. The noise seems never-ending as Nicky spends all night restlessly tossing and turning. She gets so desperate for sleep that she escapes to the discomfort of her car to spend the night. She tries to be reasonable by speaking to Dean, and he does seem to be understanding of her complaints, but it isn’t long before he turns up the music again. Nicky eventually tries to seek help from the police, but they’re useless. She realizes that this is a situation that she’ll have to take care of on her own. It takes a while for her anger to increase to the point she finally snaps, but when she does…oh, boy, is it a treat. There are many clever and hilarious moments of her trying to get revenge on Dean, like going out and mowing the lawn early in the morning. However, there’s no way to wake up an early 20-something after a hard night of drinking and drugs.

Each act of revenge escalates and is met with Dean’s retaliation. It’s a battle of wills between them that veers into the psychological as Nicky begins to descend toward sleep-deprived madness. Her actions become driven by instinct as her exhaustion causes delirium. There are times when the audience doesn’t know if what they’re seeing is truth or fiction. Her psychological transformation is introduced with the camera’s focus on her cracking ceiling - her world is cracking at its foundation. The sound design also works wonders to get into her mental state, especially in one scene where she lets out a primal scream that’s drowned out by Dean’s music. The transformation of a female character in the before and after she loses her shit is always fascinating to watch unfold. Marshal goes from a quiet woman to one who is almost unrecognizable in her mania.

Restless is a film that sucks you right in instantly, establishing its humorous tone while making it known that things are about to get messy. There’s so much entertainment to be found in the decisions Nicky makes throughout the film, leading to a crescendo that you don’t expect, but one that is so satisfying.