Blinking his puppy-moist eyes and grappling with an English accent, Downey struggles so manfully in the role that one cuts him a lot of slack; working earnestly on her Irish brogue and mussing up her cupcake demeanor in the service of verisimilitude as a wise madwoman, Meg Ryan’s performance is, refreshingly, less precious than she’s been in a long while.
Restoration, as I say, has its flaws. The lessons it wants to teach us may be too obvious. And the production's appealing lack of solemnity has the downside of seeming, at times, like superficiality. [26 Jan 1996, p.18]
Hoffman's eye for detail isn't matched by his jolting way with a narrative, which an extra year's preparation and editing from its original planned release didn't help. One comes away with the suspicion that Restoration should have been a longer movie, and feeling somewhat relieved that it isn't. [02 Feb 1996, p.5]
Downey seems subdued in the film's central role, as if he's out of his league when it comes to dramatically stretching as an actor. Even when all decked out in foppish finery, looking absolutely ridiculous to the objective eye, he can't find a way to focus your attention on him. Instead, in looking at him, all you can do is wonder: How much did those duds cost?