Restless is an emotional and at-times torturous thriller: Tribeca Film Festival Review

The basic narrative at the core of Restless – asking how far one would go to maintain peace in your own home – is perhaps one of the most relatable, and it’s because of that potential familiarity that Jed Hart‘s dread-drenched thriller is all the more chilling.

Whether it’s happened directly to us or we have heard the story first (or second) hand, a noisy neighbour continually indulging in their habits despite whatever warnings given can induce a nightmarish mentality for the party on the receiving end.  Complaints go unnoticed and passive-aggressiveness makes way, leading to an altogether unpleasantness that bears weight on one’s psyche.

This is particularly true for the lead in Restless, Nicky (Lyndsey Marshal), a single, reserved woman living in a duplex, who immediately gets off on the wrong foot with her new neighbour, Deano (Aston McAuley), who, night after night, plays incessantly loud techno music as he and his buddies party until all hours.  It’s not just the music Nicky has to contend with, but their substance consumption, leading to Deano not always being the easiest figure to get through to.

Hoping she can appeal to his humanity, Nicky asks ever-so-kindly for him to turn the music down, and despite assurances that he’ll watch the volume, the raging parties only continue.  As Deano’s behaviour escalates, so too does Nicky’s aggression, leading their interactions to be doused in an anger that, as we view in discomfort, appear on the edge of a boiling point.

Hart laces the film with a tension that goes beyond Nicky and Deano’s distaste for one another, with a subplot regarding Nicky’s missing cat amping up their already strained nature; it must be said that anybody triggered by animals in distress should be on guard for certain portions of the film.

Whilst some may look at Nicky’s transformation over the film from timid to terrifying as a drastic, exaggerated ploy on the half of Hart’s storytelling, the very real side effects of sleep deprivation can cause such psychological brutality, and though she’s driven to certain acts, the desperation we feel for her means we’re entirely on her side, even if we don’t necessarily agree with the handling of her situation.

So much of Restless‘ success comes down to the two-hander of Marshal and McAuley, who both embody their flawed characters with a naturality that assists in selling us this dramatic story.  Nicky could ultimately be any one of us, and it’s because we can see the reasoning in her actions that this at-times torturous thriller earns such emotional resonance.


Restless screened as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran between June 5th and 16th, 2024.  For more information head to the official Tribeca Film Festival page.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.