What if Clark Kent was not actually Superman but a highly delusional nut case who could never fly and struggled to lift a coffee table? What if the movies we saw him in, the comic books and TV shows, were simply visual representations of his delirium?
That isn’t precisely the premise of writer/director Leon Ford’s Australian superhero piss take Griff the Invisible, a quirky low-fi companion piece to the better, louder, more conventionally minded and equally post mod Kick Ass. But it’s one of a number of interesting ideas Ford ambitiously throws into a kooky genre experiment that almost – but not quite – works despite itself. The problem is partly momentum and tempo: if you’re shooting for an offbeat pace, which Ford certainly does, it stands to reason you may struggle with rhythm.
Griff (True Blood’s Ryan Kwanteen) is a complaisant schmuck by day, whittling away the hours in a crummy office job. By night he monitors the neighborhood with a panel of spy screens in his apartment, and when trouble’s a-brewin’ slips on his super suit and roughs up the baddies.
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Griff’s only friend is his brother Tim (Patrick Brammall), who has a quiet new girlfriend, Melody (Maeve Dermody). Also a loner, Melody smells one of her own, switches brothers and awkwardly pursues a relationship with Griff. The story becomes predominantly about a romance between kindred souls whose main attraction is shared weirdness, a sort of intimate twin delusion.
The chemistry between Kwanteen and Dermody is soft, endearing and a little too effortless — almost romantic sleepwalking. The manner with which Leon Ford ties perceptions of reality and imagination together with bits and bobs of the superhero genre is interesting, but the film’s aloof and unpredictable narrative sells some of its best achievements short.
Griff the Invisible’s Australian theatrical release date: March 17, 2010.