Griff the Invisible

13 Sep

Title: Griff the Invisible
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Leon Ford
Writer: Leon Ford
Starring: 
Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, Toby Schmitz, Heather Mitchell, Marshall Napier
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, some language and violence
Runtime: 
93 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 
62%

The reviews haven’t been all that amazing, but I actually found myself really liking Griff the Invisible. It’s a charming film, one that’s funny in some neat and dark little ways, and it’s one that stars Ryan Kwanten, the Australian actor better known to American audiences for switching his down-under accent for a Southern one in HBO’s mega-successful True Blood. Now, I’m actually a big True Blood fan, the season finale was just last night actually, so I like Mr. Kwanten quite a bit, the guy’s charming in that show and can really play that role well, but what got me really excited for Griff the Invisible was actually a little film from last year called Red Hill to which I gave a B+ to. That film was a western set in Australia and was just seriously superb, and considering I only knew Mr. Kwanten from his turn in True Blood, it was the one that opened my eyes to the actual talent this guy had and what he could bring to a very different kind of role.

And if we’re talking about him going for different roles, well then Griff the Invisible fits in that criteria perfectly. The titular hero is a guy who we’re introduced to first as a nighttime vigilante, a caped crusader, only to then realize that in real life he’s a regular mild-mannered guy with an ordinary office job. And the stuff Mr. Kwanten does with the character is quite cool, and it’s cool because Leon Ford, the writer-director of this film, really polished this character nicely, not only giving him two identities, but also adding a layer or two extra that are full of psychological complexities about this lonely crusader that really get you into the film and allow you to care for this character.

It’s sort of like a kind of Kick-Ass, not that amazing a film, but still a very good one because it tackles some genre familiarities but it stretches them out a bit, it achieves a few nice twists and that allows it to be its own unique experience. And the stuff that this film does to set itself apart from films like it really are smart, and they give this a feel that I personally truly appreciated, like how the relationship between Griff and Melody, the film’s main romantic interest, developed. Melody is this cute girl, totally unique and quirky as she claims to be testing molecular movement theories by walking into walls to see if by any chance to manages to walk through them. So yes, there’s obviously a latent love story between two outcasts there like the ones we’ve seen so many times before. But this film actually makes it work on great levels, because even though it embraces all the eccentricities of this coupling, there’s something very smart in the way it approaches it that sets it apart from the ones that may look like it on the surface.

Griff is a great character, too, a regular office drone who spends his nights in his unimpressive apartment waiting for trouble to begin so that he can be a part of something in this world, even his chosen superhero name alludes to his human existence, it’s as though he’s invisible, the sort of guy who can blend into crowds. It may be a bit too twee of a film, I’ll admit that, but it still really worked for me in a lot of levels, it’s critical in a very smart way, a very funny deconstruction of what our culture has become in terms of how much we seem to worship superheroes. This really is a very good movie because it has this really well-crafted and emotional human story beneath it all, and because the performances by Maeve Dermody, who plays Melody, and by Mr. Kwanten are a true pleasure to watch, they do a lot with their characters, really peeling through to their core and showing us the deep layers in them, and their scenes together are just really nicely acted.

I really do recommend Griff the Invisible, it’s another story about an awkward sort of misfit trying to turn himself into a superhero, and even though this one really isn’t all that ground-breaking, it’s just really charming in all its whimsical ways, and it really gets to be quite endearing once its short ninety-minute running time is up. That offbeat way in which to service a rather familiar treading ground is awesome, it’s a cheerful little film that works just as well, if not better, in the non-superhero moments than in the caped-crusader-mode ones. Mr. Ford does a great job at giving this one a sweet look, full of vibrant colors right off the page of a comic book that goes really well with quirky little score done by Australian band Kids at Risk. So yes, this is a very fun debut from Mr. Ford, and if you like these sort of films you need to check it out, and if you want to see what Mr. Kwanten can do other than be a lovable naïve guy then this is also required viewing, and if you haven’t seen Red Hill yet then go check that one out to for the same reason.

Grade: B+

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