Restraint is a slow, low-budget, psychological thriller that punches way above it's weight class without seeming out of place. The setup was pretty good if not entirely plausible, and the ending was the weakest part of the movie. Yet, with a strong cast, the story keeps the audience well and truly involved right up until the end.

Ron (Travis Fimmel) and Dale (Teresa Palmer) are running from a double murder spree. In search of a hiding place, they stumble upon a mansion in the middle of nowhere, which is inhabited by an agoraphobic man Andrew (Stephen Moyer). What starts off as a house invasion and hostage scenario quickly turns interesting when Andrew offers Ron and Dale forty thousand dollars to leave him alive. The catch is that Dale has to impersonate Andrew's fiancee to withdraw the money from a bank.

At the risk of infuriating Ron, Andrew begins trying to turn Dale against her boyfriend. Slowly the allure of life in the well off society begins to contrast with that of a renegade accomplice, as Dale begins to question her life with Ron. As the high-stakes battle of power between Andrew and Ron comes to a head, Dale becomes the decisive factor.

Fimmel is brilliant as the unstable and reckless Ron. There is a sense of scary naivete about the character that is terrifying. Moyer is equally, if not more, brilliant as Ron's exact opposite. Outside of his fear of open spaces, Andrew is the cultured yet scheming man. In places he is decidedly creepier than Ron. In comparison Dale is the flaky one. Young, directionless, she seems to float towards strength - an idea reinforced by her transformation from brunette into blonde in the movie.

The remaining characters in the movie are just the backdrop for the unfolding story, and never really interfere with the narrative. In that sense the movie has a feeling of isolation. Even though there are some scenes shot outside of the huge mansion, it feels like the mansion was the only location in the movie. While it suffers from less expensive production values, Restraint is a cast-driven movie that is worth watching if you are into psychological thrillers.

June 18, 2011


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