Rated 4.0

Ends tonight, Oct. 20. Enoch and Annabel first meet at a funeral. He’s been systematically attending the funerals of strangers when the two of them first catch each other’s eye, and she sees something quirky and interesting in him right away. She’s quirky and interesting in her own right, and so is not put off by the discovery that Enoch has an imaginary friend, the ghost of a Kamikaze pilot named Hiroshi. Annabel has secrets of her own—she has incurable cancer—and her home life is overseen by the older sister to whom their still-youthful mother has ceded adult authority. And Enoch, still in shock from the death of his parents in a car accident, lives with his aunt in his family’s huge old Portland, Ore., mansion. That synopsis may sound ripe for morbid melodrama, but in the hands of Gus Van Sant and his youthful cast it becomes the occasion for a sweetly stoical romance, a low-key love-death aria in defiance of those intimations of mortality. Henry Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s son, is charmingly bummed-out as Enoch, and wispy Mia Wasikowska gives Annabel a surprisingly credible quality of fragile soulfulness. Van Sant’s gentle approach to every aspect of the story (scripted by Jason Lew) makes for a modest but surprisingly genuine emotional pay-off. Pageant Theatre. Rated PG-13