Australia isn’t exactly known for its cinematic output. They’re more known for kangaroos and putting shrimp on barbies. Griff the Invisible however, is an interesting and unique film that does the land down under rather proud. It is a movie that borders on about three distinct genres. Those genres are the superhero film, romantic-comedy and drama. Each of these genres are blended together to make one hell of a quirky cinematic experience.
Meet Griff, a 28-year-old office drone who suffers from extreme awkwardness and gets bullied on a regular basis by his peers. He is played wonderfully uncomfortable by Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), a true thespian who carries the film very well. Griff may seem like your typical cubicle geek but he has an unusual secret. That secret is that he actually moonlights as a costumed crime-fighter at night. He battles muggers and other deviants who occupy his urban neighborhood in true super-heroic fashion. Whenever evil rears its ugly head, Griff dons his bold padded costume and gets to work.
Griff’s nightly adventures are pretty fantastic, a stark contrast from his mundane daytime activities. A stereotypical pushover, Griff is constantly picked on at work by the office tool, Tony played with just the right amount of sleaze by Toby Schmitz (Three Blind Mice). Griff lives much of his life as a doormat but when the sun goes down, so goes away his meek persona. With the use of a slick muscle suit, Griff escapes the harsh reality in which he exists only to rise up high in his fight for justice.
With two vastly different lives being lived, Griff is torn between what is painfully real and what is truly incredible. The only person close to him is his pompous brother, Tim played with nitwit-like charm by Patrick Brammall (Shock). Tim has recently started dating a beautiful but fairly odd young lady, Melody played with supreme quirkiness by Maeve Dermody (Beautiful Kate). The couple is in the early stages but it is quite obvious (except to Tim) that they are a mismatch. Melody actually has much more in common with Griff and their unexpected chemistry creates not only tension between he and Tim but between Griff’s valiant alias and his true identity.
Griff the Invisible is yet another film following in the recent trend of “homemade superhero films”. This relatively new sub-genre exploded with popularity last year with Kick-Ass and continued on a steady path with Defendor and most recently, Super. Apparently, super-heroics is a new fad sweeping popular culture. Average citizens just don’t want to be average anymore and they feel some bizarre need to slap on spandex and beat up bad guys. Griff, like many of these other “homemade superheroes” is a tortured soul who just wants himself as well as others to be treated with respect. He might be a little mentally unstable but his heart is in the right place.
Premiering at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, Griff the Invisible was well-received by audiences. It was also screened and enjoyed by a predominately teenage audience at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival. The film is an unusual blend of action, drama and romantic-comedy. There aren’t many films like it and that’s what makes it so damn interesting. American audiences are definitely in for a treat because writer/director Leon Ford (Katoomba) has created a strangely beautiful world full of rich colorful characters. Very few films manage to excite, instill laughter and break an audience’s heart. The variety of emotions that Griff the Invisible brings out is really amazing. The actors here do a terrific job making up Griff’s world. The direction is pretty tight however the editing is somewhat lacking in some scenes. I’m not sure if this was done deliberately to enhance the overall feel and rawness of the picture. If so, then I applaud the editor. If you want to spend 90 minutes well, then I highly recommend this film.