© 2011 Ray Wong
Superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days. What the filmmakers try to do with Griff the Invisible, however, is offer something different.
Griff (Ryan Kwanten) is a client relation representative by day. He is shy, withdrawn, and keeps to himself mostly in the office. He also gets picked on and bullied by coworkers, especially Tony (Toby Schmitz). Little do these people know, however, that Griff is a superhero by night. He takes order from "central office" and monitors local crimes. He's a true crime fighter.
But being a superhero has its price, and soon it becomes impossible for Griff to stay low-key without literally becoming invisible. So he tries to build an invisible suit. Meanwhile, he meets the girl Melody (Maeve Dermody) who his brother Tim (Patrick Brammall) is kind of dating. Soon, though, Melody becomes fascinated with Griff, for she, too, is not "normal."
It happens that Melody lives in her own world, too, and she is a scientist always trying to figure out the impossible. For example, she believes that if all the molecules align just the right way, a person can go through a solid object such as a wall or a door. When she realizes who Griff really is and what he's trying to do, she wants to help him make the invisible suit. And an unlikely romance develops between these two outcasts.
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) gives an earnest performance very unlike his character in True Blood, for which the Australian actor is best known. As Griff, he is withdrawn, quiet, introverted, sensitive, but devious at the same time. Kwanten does a nice job disappearing in the character without relying on his usual sex appeal.
Maeve Derody (Black Water) is wonderfully odd as Melody. She plays the character with a slight awkwardness that doesn't make her a "crazy" character but you realize she is different anyway. She and Kwanten play off each other very well.
The supporting cast does an adequate job. Marshall Napier (The Water Horse) is solid as Griff's sympathetic boss and father figure. Toby Schmitz (Three Blind Mice) is fine as the office bully, if only a bit stereotypical and cliché. Patrick Brammall (Hawke) is affecting as Griff's adoring, protective older brother.
Writer-Director Leon Ford (Katoomba) takes an interesting approach telling this "superhero" tale. Before long, you realize something is off and not quite what it seems. Ford leaves little clues here and then, and then reveals Griff's secret quite bluntly, and the story takes on an odd and interesting twist. The audience is left to wonder where it is going and what will happen to these interesting characters.
That said, the screenplay and direction suffer from certain literary pitfalls that usually plagues new or independent filmmakers. The plot unfolds rather slowly and the structure is somewhat contrived -- clever for cleverness's sake, at times. The dialogue is rather dull at times, lacking the wittiness that could lift the by-and-large quiet story. What Ford succeeded, though, is creating intersecting characters with real motives and history, who make us care about them even after we know what really is going on with them.
I totally enjoyed the movie despite its flaws. It offers an interesting and off-the-wall take on the genre. At the core, it's a very human story about two people who, against all odds, connect with each other. It's also about unconditional love, which is refreshing without overt preaching. This independent film may be small and quiet, but it won't be invisible if you give it a chance.
Stars: Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, Marshall Napier, Toby Schmitz, Patrick Brammall, Anthony Phelan
Director: Leon Ford
Writer: Leon Ford
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, violence and themes
Running Time: 90 minutes
Script - 7
Performance - 7
Direction - 6
Cinematography - 7
Music/Sound - 6
Editing - 6
Production - 7
Total - 7.0 out of 10.0