Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In Director David Denneen’s Australian based thriller ‘Restraint’ we meet the character of Ron (Travis Fimmel) who is some kind of in love with his girl Dale (Teresa Palmer). Neither Ron nor Dale seems to be all that sophisticated but they do have their talents. For instance when we first meet the couple outside of a dusty gas station, Dale seems to be a few bucks short on what she is attempting to purchase and makes a deal with the gas station attendant to settle this debt using one of her particular talents. Obviously this doesn’t please Ron who grabs his girl and is about to leave, that is until this stupid attendant follows the loon Ron out of his gas station and sees the dead guy in the trunk. Here we see Ron’s main talent, this being unbridled violent rage. Now there are two dead guys, even though to Dale’s benefit she wasn’t fully aware how crazy Ron really was, though she still finds it kinda sexy, as they continue their wild little journey to freedom.

This journey will lead the pair to the lair of the lonely, wealthy agoraphobic Andrew (Steven Moyer) who spends his days caring for his beloved pet bird, watching television and feeling sorry for himself ever since his fiancée abandoned him. Things is Andrew’s pathetic life is about to get really interesting really quick as he is home invaded by a crazy psycho and a sexy minx. All Ron wants Andrew to do is drive him to a certain location but that is going to be difficult since the man can’t leave his front porch without going into seizures. Complicating matters is that the police know who Ron is and are actively looking for him which raises the stress levels of a man who is already on the teetering edge of explosion to the level of completely combustible. Dale, a simple girl, is just happy to be in the nice house playing dress up in the fabulous clothes this fiancée left behind. Regardless, Ron has to make his getaway and Andrew eventually has to die… but not so fast. Andrew, while not the boldest, bravest cat in the room, is a quick thinker and he informs Ron that he has a couple of trust fund checks coming his way, and considering his condition he can’t leave the house to cash them… but his fiancée can. With a quick dye job and a flash of Professor Higgins style voice coaching he could pass Dale off as this fiancée of his and get this money for the pair who in return will spare his life. At least that’s the theory.

It wasn’t easy but Andrew coached up Dale properly and she pulls off this little ruse which has worked in a couple of ways for Andrew who is using his own talents against this pair in an attempt to save his own life. Dale is coming to the realization that maybe there is something more out there for her than being the sidekick to a murderous lunatic. Andrew is steady planting sees of doubt into Ron’s muddled mind about Dale but Ron, while completely crazy, isn’t stupid. Not by a long shot. He knows something is not quite right with Andrew because crazy seems to know crazy, we’re just curious to see if he’ll find out what his secret is in time to save his own life.

I mentioned before that I have this stack of movies in a pile and after a while this stack just becomes an albatross as I often have to sift through this stack to find something to watch and just hope that this something I arbitrarily choose won’t be too terrible. It doesn’t have to be good, just not terrible. Then every once in a while we get lucky. Every once in a while get the pleasure of watching a movie that sets out to do something and accomplishes almost everything that filmmaker was shooting for. With ‘Restraint’ we have a thriller that was thrilling. A movie of which the bulk of consists of only three characters and all three of these characters are well acted, well drawn and completely believable. Even though this film wasn’t designed as a whodunit so to speak, it still managed to conceal just enough of what was going on underneath the narrative to keep you engrossed and wondering what was going to happen next.

While the technical details of ‘Restraint’ are almost flawless, that being the cinematography, the drum tight direction and Dave Warner’s great screenplay, this movie will pass or fail on the strength of these three characters since they have to carry the entire film and it bears repeating that they are stellar. It’s pretty clear once we meet Stephen Moyer’s Andrew that something is going on under that scared, nervous, phobic exterior, and even though we know that he knows he’s probably going to die at the hands of his invaders, you can’t help but feel he is somehow still pleased to have the company in addition to having a slight upper hand despite his situation. Travis Fimmel probably had the most difficult job in making his character of Ron something other than a raving murderous lunatic, and while he took Ron to the edge on most occasions, he also gave his character some depth of intelligence and passion, giving substance to the lunacy which was his character. Teresa Palmer also did a fine job as her character of Dale had to travel the most emotional ground and the young woman combined a slutty sexiness with a character who has seen too much but is still oddly naïve and easily manipulated.

As hard as I try I can’t find too much fault in this movie… maybe the ending action sequence was out there a bit, but still, it wasn’t so far out there that it veered from the flow of the film in my opinion. My only regret is that this movie has been lying around the house in DVD form for over a year and I’ve just got around to watching it.

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