Griff the Invisible DIRECTOR: Leon Ford
STARRING: Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, Marshall Napier, Heather Mitchell, Toby Schmitz, Patrick Brammall, Anthony Phelan
RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2011 (limited)
Most of us recognize Ryan Kwanten as Jason Stackhouse from the hit guilty pleasureâ€“fest that is HBO’s True Blood. Some fans may know his voice from Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole or smaller, more obscure fare like the forgettable Flicka and Dead Silence, or even more obscure TV titles like Summerland, or Home and Away and Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord in his native Australia. But again, most of us point to Mr. Stackhouse.
But Kwanten has also dabbled in the realms of indie films over the past couple of years, and his work there is not to be ignored. After seeing the 2010 western thriller, Red Hill, I was more than excited to take a peek at his other 2010 effort, Griff the Invisible, which is just now seeing a limited theatrical run.
The movie tells the story of Griff (Kwanten), a shy and quiet individual struggling to get through the boring events of everyday life. But when night falls, Griff gets to be his true self: a superhero called Griff the Invisible who rids the streets of danger by dealing with anyone who causes trouble. At least that’s what he thinks he’s doingâ€”Griff is something of a daydreamer, and who he is and what he does isn’t always quite the way he sees it.
Griff goes to great lengths to protect his secret identityâ€”especially when the authorities start looking for the costumed crusader seen in the area at nightâ€”but when Melody (Maeve Dermody), his brother Tim’s (Patrick Brammall) girlfriend, comes over, she instantly sees that he’s something special and begins to fall for him. But Griff can’t bring anyone into his life, and he pushes Melody away to protect her from the dangers that follow him…or at least he tries to, for she too is special.
Griff the Invisible will automatically draw comparisons to other movies about regular everyday people trying to become superheros, like Kickâ€“Ass or Super, but if you ask me, this would be a mistake. Though there are plenty of superhero elements, it’s not so much about the crimeâ€“fighting as it is about Griff escaping from a world he simply does not belong in and finding that one unique soul who gets him and why he is who he is. Nothing about his regular life is appealing to him, and he visibly fights to be the “normal” people like his brother so badly want him to be. But when he gets to become the Invisible, all is right in the world; this alterâ€“ego is his everything.
The movie is quite subtle, and you shouldn’t seek it out expecting the action and adventure of a comic bookâ€“type movie. This is not that. What it is is a wellâ€“shot, wellâ€“acted film with a strange but heartwarming story, exceptionally presented by director Leon Ford. It delivers wonderful cinematography work as well, with some pretty exquisite shots utilizing the power of a strong color.
Kwanten is solid as the incredibly reserved lead, and his (often awkward) chemistry with Dermody helps to fuel the movie throughout. Many of us know what it feels like to be something of an outcast; to not fit into the social mold that exists in this world. But these two characters take it to another level, and there’s a great amount of appeal in their almost childlike simplicity, both as individuals and together as a pair.
At its core, Griff the Invisible is a love story, and a good one at that. Griff and Melody can’t function in the real world, and so they stumble and struggle through it, trying their best not to make too much of a mess, until they meet each other. It takes a while for Griff to trust her, but once he sees that she’s “special” like he is, and that she sees that in him as well, he’s able to open up and realize that only with each other are they able to feel truly normal.
This movie won’t be for everyone, but if you’re someone who can appreciate a good story about life and love and the socially unaccepted trying to find a place where they can be themselves, then you should absolutely seek it out and see it immediately. Personally, I enjoyed every bit of it. I may be in the minority, but for me it was something unique and touching, something I’ll enjoy watching multiple times in the future, and something I hope others will feel the same way about.