REVIEW: Griff the Invisible
Where do you draw the line between fantasy and reality? Can that line be the same for everyone, or can it be redefined from person to person? Those questions are addressed in the charming and quirky Griff the Invisible, opening nationwide this Friday.
Griff lives in a fantasy world, one with electronic surveillance and a red hot line phone connecting the costumed Griff with the commissioner of police. He is an athletic threat to the scum and villainy that prowl the streets of an unidentified British city. The real Griff literally blends into the scenery as shown early on by the writer/director Leon Ford. He works in a nondescript job, trying to keep to himself but becomes the butt of jokes from office bully Tim.
His only friend appears to be his older brother Tony, who has protected his brother and intimations are made that Griff has suffered in the recent past, forcing his sibling to relocate his life in order to keep an eye on him. Tony, though, has met Melody and is besotted despite her own shy and quiet ways. She lives in her own fantasy world, certain she can find the exact point where her molecular structure can line up with that of a wall allowing her to pass right through the seemingly solid barrier. While Griff has trouble interacting with the exterior world, Melody functions better but is clumsy and apt to trip over her own feet with amazing regularity.
When Griff and Melody meet, it is also the meeting of two complementary fantasy worlds, igniting a truly unique love story.
Ford says he was inspired to write the story in the mid-2000s after seeing a young boy playing in his own fantasy world. He wrote the script and honed it until he landed casting and financing. What’s impressive is the skill and pathos found in Griff by the actor Ryan Kwanten, best known as the dim bulb Jason Stackhouse on True Blood. With his dark hair and quiet demeanor, he has that familiar look that is at first hard to place. He’s well-matched by the lesser known but no less talented Maeve Dermody as the intense Melody.
The movie moves along at a nice, leisurely pace as Griff continues to be taunted at work while he continues to attempt construction an action outfit that will render him entirely invisible. Melody says she wants to be his sidekick but that freaks him out, the notion of anyone entering his world has him uneasy. She perseveres as their private worlds continue to comingle until she finally breaks things off with Griff’s brother, and she pursues Griff with Tony’s blessing.
The problem is, Griff has been out “patrolling” and the police care hunting the local stalker which is when reality and fantasy clash head-on and Griff is stunned to realize what has been happening. His attempts to go “mundane” do not go well.
As a writer, Ford does a nice job crafting his characters, giving you just enough to make them feel real without distracting you from the main focus on Griff and Melody. Having said that, Tim the bully feels the least developed, especially as he is getting away with his antics despite the boss keeping a keen eye on the staff. You definitely want to know more about the leads’ backstories after the tantalizing hints but you are left to speculate on the details on your own. The director Ford shoots the movie well but it is at first somewhat confusing because he does nothing to tip the viewer off as to which version of reality we’re being shown but once the story’s conceit is clear, it’s a lot easier to follow. The original score from Kids at Risk helps keep the entire production feeling fresh and different.
At the end, the film leaves you largely satisfied, rooting for the young lovers and hoping the city remains safe. It’s got quite a bit of charm even with its low budget look and feel and you definitely want to see what Ford can do on a larger canvass.