Published Aug 18, 2011Given the overwhelming, and somewhat frightening, popularity of the American superhero film over the last decade, it's unsurprising that other countries and folks on the periphery would start to deconstruct the genre and expose it for what it is. Last year, little seen Canadian film Defendor took a stab at it and, more recently, Kick-Ass jumped in the ring, tossed out some punches, then apologized and contentedly contradicted itself.
The Australian Griff the Invisible hits the nail on the head most adroitly, capturing the real world alienation and anxieties that cause power/identity fantasies and understanding, truly, what it is to be an outsider, having the world constantly demand assimilation. Said outsider is the titular Griff (True Blood's Ryan Kwanten), an office customer liaise who avoids standard socialization with his colleagues, preferring his company and less superficial modes of human communication.
Inevitably, this makes him a target of mockery from those that perceive his difference as personal criticism, which is only exacerbated by his tendency to dress up in a superhero costume at night and play out delusions of protecting the innocent from evildoers. While his antisocial behaviour irks those that just want him to be normal, it appeals to Melody (Maeve Dermody), whose klutzy tendencies and preoccupation with life on a cellular level keep her on the outside looking in. At one point she remarks, "Because you see the world one way and we see it differently, you want to change us. But maybe we don't need to change. Maybe it's the rest of you that need to grow up instead."
Such is the construct of this surprisingly sad, beautiful story; it's about the power of connection and being special to someone in a world where uniform blandness and banality are the status quo. Few films manage to communicate this feeling so effectively, even if the package it comes in is a bit dishevelled.
It takes awhile for this grounded human drama to find its footing, initially struggling to distinguish reality from the fantasies in Griff's head. Resultantly, the first 20 minutes of the movie are a little off-putting and unfocused, introducing all of the elements haphazardly. But once things come together, they do so with a unique power that will touch some and irritate most. (Green Park)