“Don’t you think in some ways it’s a bad thing to take other people’s money?”Will
A cult Scottish film, on the surface Restless Natives is a fairly straightforward light 1980s crime caper but the title reveals its deeper themes of youth disaffection in a region ruled by a Thatcher Government in Westminster that Scotland had voted against. Best friends Will and Ronnie escape the drudgery of their lives in Edinburgh by taking a motorbike into the coutryside where we first see them in a hapless failed attempt at robbing a passing car. However, their opportunistic criminal enterprise takes off when they don masks and target tourist buses, granting them a sense of accomplishment and becoming unexpected local heroes in the process. Will’s dad embodies the hypocritical dichotomy of the older generation, admonishing Will’s lack of prospects (“there’s opportunities for them that want them”) whilst lauding the anonymous bandits (“two young lads had the wit and style to take six hundred quid off a bunch of stupid tourists”). Indeed the irony of their crimes is that, far from establishment fears that they might drive away foreign money, the pair become a tourist attraction. With the police depicted as affably incompetent, the tension comes from within as Will is preoccupied by a blossoming relationship while Ronnie is drawn deeper toward more violent criminality. There is a tonal absurdity to Restless Natives with the boys’ highly conspicuous clown and wolf masks and polite demeanour, which sits in deliberate juxtaposition to English crime films of the era. Even with Studio Canal’s recent restoration, Restless Natives cannot escape its low-budget production and inconsistent performances, yet it all adds to its local charm and anti-establishment nature, coupled with the distinctive sound of its evocative Big Country soundtrack.
Disclosure: QuickView #350 was commissioned for a charitable donation