Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Griff the Invisible

A simple and sweet romance disguised a crime-fighting superhero flick, Griff the Invisible is a film to fall in love with. This elegant feature debut from writer-director Leon Ford stars True Blood's Ryan Kwanten as the eponymous masked crusader, though one who might spend a little more time practicing his lines in front of the mirror than actually protecting the streets. As a painfully awkward recluse, Griff bears all the hallmarks of a misfit: he's mercilessly harassed by office bully Tony (Toby Schmitz), while at home his sole visitor is his caring, if exasperated brother Tim (Patrick Brammall). But this all changes when Tim brings by Melody (Maeve Dermody), a delightful eccentric who spies the superhero behind Griff’s shy façade.

Shot through with enchanting magical realism and chock full of heart, Griff the Invisible needs to take its place in your DVD collection alongside films like Amelie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Lars and the Real Girl. Though Ford's fable is more modest in scope, these titles provide a handy primer for the appeal and tone of his marvellous creation. Because to truly appreciate this film, the audience needs follow Melody and let themselves be sucked into Griff’s oddball world; a leap of faith which ultimately prove utterly charming.

For True Blood fans, Kwanten will be almost unrecognisable as the sociophobic superhero. His performance is so expertly restrained (in fact one briefly wonders if there isn't a more insidious pathology at work), yet he also infuses Griff with such earnest enthusiasm, that the audience is quickly rallied to become his champions. Leading the charge is of course Melody, who is brought to wondrous life by the ever-impressive Dermody. Her performance is as bright and colourfully quirky as Melody's wardrobe, and she provides a perfect compliment to Kwanten's quiet reserve. After stealing scenes from Ben Mendelsohn in Beautiful Kate as well as making a name on the Sydney theatre scene, Dermody again proves herself a talent to watch.

Another stand out are Sydney band Kids at Risk, who have leapt from Triple J Unearthed discovery to pen the film's soundtrack. Though Ford also makes bold use of silence, the indie-rock trio hit it out of the park, crafting such a striking soundtrack, you’ll want to head straight from the cinema to buy the album (though, for now you'll have to make do with downloading the single Doing the Best that We Can).

As a writer and director, Ford playfully eschews the wiz bang trappings of both the superhero and romantic comedy genres to craft a disarmingly honest and guileless love story. But Griff the Invisible also succeeds in acting as a heart-warming reminder to celebrate your idiosyncrasies, as well as having the courage to embrace love when you’re lucky enough to find someone who truly sees you. And much like the film, these are lessons worth taking to heart.

Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 17 March 2011

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