Tribeca 2024 Review: RESTLESS, Don't Be a Menace to the Lady Next Door

Contributing Writer
Tribeca 2024 Review: RESTLESS, Don't Be a Menace to the Lady Next Door

Nicky (Lyndsey Marshal) just wants to sleep. Well, actually at first Nicky just wants to come home after work, bake some cakes, watch some billiards on TV and snuggle with her cat.

What Nicky doesn’t want, or love, is her new neighbor Deano (Aston McAuley), who now occupies the house of her late parents, constantly partying with his many mates – and doing it very loudly. At first, this seems like a mere annoyance, which Nicky tries to deal with in a corresponding manner by going out there and talking to Deano. He seems cooperative at first, even if unconvincingly so, but then he isn’t.

Soon, Nicky loses her sleep, and potentially her sanity, because of all the loud music and banging at all times at night. The situation forces her to find new creative ways to reign new neighbors in when the police and the appeal to the community fail her. Incidentally, those may or may not include burying someone in the woods in the middle of the night – that’s not a spoiler, the film literally opens with this ambiguous glimpse into Nicky’s future.

Director Jed Hart has previously made a short, Candy Floss, and a mini-series, Fright Bites, and Restless offers up a great material for an effective feature debut. It’s a simple yet relatable story. Not only because lots of people dealt with some version of terrible neighbors scenario, but also because it once again reminds us how fragile the human psyche is and how easily it might get wavered.

Hart balances dark dramedy with thriller undertones, where the tension is born out of seemingly ordinary situations and only intensifies with time. Nicky’s initial attempts to get some sleep despite Deano’s antics are genuinely funny, including the hilarious decision to go out on a date to avoid listening to all the ruckus again. The humor gets darker though, as foreshadowed by the opening episode with the possible burying of the body while opera plays on the background.

This is a film with an intimate, sometimes even claustrophobic setting, with Nicky treating her home like a fortress until this illusion is ripped from under her. The title of Hart’s film can actually be taken in two different ways. Sure, Nicky is restless because she literally doesn’t get to sleep, but whether she wants to admit it or not, she was discontent even before the whole nightmare started. With her parents gone, her kid away at the university and her job being tough and thankless, Marshal’s heroine seems to move through life on an autopilot, which might accelerate her descent into a more unstable state.

This descent is emphasized a lot by the sound in the film, as the insistent beat coming from Deano’s house clashes with Nicky’s musical taste and her relaxation tapes. The imagery works towards the same effect, even though some of them – such as an aggressive vegetable chopping or a boiling kettle or a glass with water almost overflowing – are a bit on the nose as the visual representation of patience running out.

The leading lady never disappoints, though. Lyndsey Marshal (The Hours, Hereafter and ironically – a mini-series called Insomnia) gives a powerful performance, projecting both vulnerability and inner strength, rationality and the capacity for rampage. Jed Hart’s screenplay is another delight as it is compact, concise and manages to throw in a few minor details seemingly for comedic relief that later pay off, putting a nice, satisfactory bow on the whole story.

The film enjoys its world premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival. It screens again on Thursday, June 13. 

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Aston McAuleyBarry WardCiara FordDenzel BaidooJed HartKate RobbinsLyndsey MarshalTribeca 2024Tribeca Festival

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