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Film Criticism by David O'Connell

Griff the Invisible

March 16th 2011 03:28

An eccentric character study couched in the framework of a crime-fighting wannabe superhero adventure, Leon Ford’s Griff the Invisible is an endearing, ultimately poignant debut. Griff (Ryan Kwanten) is a troubled, lonely soul, an anonymous office pleb who takes refuge from the ribbing and condescension of his co-workers in flights of fancy as a hero for the people, donning a home-made suit as he monitors the streets for outbreaks of illegal activity.

First impressions provide the whiff of a Kick-Ass styled adventure, but although Ford’s quirky comedy/drama is far more modest – especially in terms of budget - it’s no less ambitious in its themes. Griff is a reflection of the misfit in us all – the uncomfortable, socially awkward part of us that struggles to adapt to the external world.

Though he doesn’t know it, Griff is lying in wait for a soul-mate, somebody who gazes upon him and sees only endearing qualities, not eccentricities that need to be tamed. That person is Melody (Maeve Dermody), the latest girlfriend of his put-upon brother Tim (Patrick Brammell) who has always come to Griff’s rescue, even relocating from Adelaide so as to keep a parental eye on Griff and obtaining him a job. Melody is an “experimentalist”, convinced by the laws of science that she will one day will able to pass through solid walls for example.

Ryan Kwanten as Griff

Griff the Invisible is an easy film to fall for. The set-up is deceptively simple but the humour is relatable and idiosyncratic, drawing us into these characters lives with uncomfortable reminders of the unsociable notions we commit to our secret selves.

Griff is initially harder to gain access to than the winsomely offbeat Melody - winningly portrayed by Dermody - and for this reason the casting of Kwanten is crucial. Thankfully he steers Griff away from the very real possibility of falling into a trap of evoking blandness and little else. He’s unquestionably helped out by Ford’s subtle comedic insights into his ‘hero’, but the actor must take the lion’s share of the credit for making Griff as sympathetic as he is.

Though it may be unassuming, Griff the Invisible (2011) is a generally appealing local product with much to recommend it. Ford’s screenplay, though patchier in the second half - including a few clunky lines of dialogue - manages some entertaining, yet acute insights into society’s determination to curtail development of the individual for the sake of conformity.

Griff the Invisible opens in Australian cinemas tomorrow, Thursday, March 17.

Maeve Dermody as Melody


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4 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Matt Shea

March 16th 2011 03:33
Nice write-up Dave. Through a miraculous set of calendar clashes I missed what must have been four different opportunities to see this. I was very curious to check it out too -- so easily could have gone either way. Will be checking it out when I can.

Comment by David O'Connell

March 16th 2011 03:45
Definitely worth checking out Matt. Going in I had no idea what to expect really; somehow I was thinking it might have been filmed with a larger budget considering the superhero angle. That wasn't the case but it's far from being a reason to avoid it. Though it has its shortcomings, it does work on many levels, including its quirky humour and ultimate message, and I can imagine Ford moving on to much bigger and better things.

Comment by Jason King

March 16th 2011 20:03
I have been really keen on seeing this - have missed so many films lately. Will try and find a day next week - nice review Dave - I am more keen on seeing it now. I love Kwanten - always find him entertaining.

Comment by David O'Connell

March 17th 2011 04:38
Thanks Jase, be interested to hear your take on this. Kwanten is really good in an understated performance - and one that's very different to his work on True Blood as well!

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