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STUDIO: Vivendi Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
- Feature commentary
- Three Anatomies of a Scene
- Deleted scenes
- Shadow Bureau music video
- Director’s video diary
You know, let me first get this out there that I recommend this film, but I can’t tell you why, because it’s spoilerish. Even though the trailer flat out gives away the film’s secrets, as does the DVD cover art and film poster. If you haven’t seen any promotional material for this though, then avoid them if you can. Get this from Netflix or Red Box or something, toss it in the DVD player without looking at any cover art, and enjoy. This review gives away the secrets (i.e. Spoiler Alert), because it’s fairly impossible not to. But if you have the opportunity to catch it without knowing what’s going on, you’ll probably enjoy the film a lot more.
It’s Kick-Ass meets Invisotext on: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Invisotext off
Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, Toby Schmitz, Patrick Brammall, Marshall Napier, Heather Mitchell, Anthony Phelan, Kelly Paterniti, David Webb, Kate Mulvany, Chan Griffin
Griff (Kwanten) is a withdrawn, socially awkward office worker who spends his days being bullied by office asshole, Tony (Schmitz), and not interacting with anyone except his brother, Tim (Brammall). But his office persona is merely his Clark Kent face, as Griff also spends his nights in a homemade superhero suit, protecting the weak and avenging the wronged. When he meets Tim’s would-be girlfriend, Melody (Maeve), who has her own unique pursuits and interests, including looking for the secret to walking through walls, his entire world is thrown for a loop.
I’m honestly at a loss for how the filmmakers should have marketed this story. On the one hand, if they played it up as an ordinary guy turned costumed vigilante like Kick-Ass, there would have likely been an uproar from audiences wh were expecting one thing and completely got another. But on the other hand, the film’s great hook of said average Joe living this double life completely in his head deserves to not be ruined like it is in the promotional materials and trailer. Because the way that writer-director, Leon Ford, first presents it and then subtly peels back the layers of reality like an onion are nuanced and well-done. And his actors, particularly Kwanten and Dermody, give equally nuanced and engaging performances in service of that subtlety. The film is very much Walter Mitty, but Ford presents it in a quite clever fashion.
The story centers Griff, who is mild-mannered – often to his own detriment as he’s frequently the target of office bully, Tony’s, pranking – cubicle jockey by day and masked avenger by night. Griff has quite the setup in his apartment, including a bank of high-tech, homemade computer monitors and sensors covering the streets, looking for any wrongdoing, and a red line directly to the police commissioner. He’s also continually looking to upgrade his outfit, to make an invisible suit so he may better move among the wicked unnoticed…or as it turns out, the real world. His first attempt is a simple yellow slicker with a black hat that renders him a chameleon next to the similarly colored bus stop. His next attempt is a hazmat suit doused in his own concoction of lemon juice and baking soda. He has other attempts, including a suit made out of metal sheeting and wires, that induces a magnetic invisibility cloak. Yet another is a speclally-made “universe suit” that he gets from an unlikely collaborator.
That collaborator is Melody, an equally mild-mannered, but outwardly more bored-with-the-world girl who is the object of Griff’s brother, Tim’s affections. This pleases her mother, who pushes her toward finding a suitable husband. But Melody’s primary concern is unlocking the secrets of the universe, including developing the ability to walk through solid walls. Melody is a believer that there are more dimensions than this one, and finding how to exist in them fascinates her to no end. Too bad that Tim, a straightlaced kind of guy, doesn’t. But when Tim takes her to meet Griff, her interest decidedly become split. It’s a shame for Griff that he has no clue how to handle her overt fascination with him.
Eventually, though, Griff becomes aware of her infatuation with him, but tells her that they can never be, due to his other life as a superhero. Nevertheless, she provides him with an idea for creating an invisibility suit, and also fashions one for him herself, telling him she wants to be his sidekick. Their fantasy worlds start to intersect, and it’s a joining that is mutually beneficial. But such phantasms are fleeting at best, and when reality starts to intrude, including Griff losing his job due to his nightly visits to work to seek payback on Tony in his “invisibility suits that aren’t”, his arrest by the police for his night prowling, and his “growing up”, it endangers everything that brought them together.
Ford has crafted a splendid little tale here, that simmers on a slow boil in its revelations of its secrets. Kwanten and Dermody give wonderful performances as two oddballs who can only exist in fantasy worlds, first their own, and then each other’s. In that regard, Griff and Melody are very much Christopher Pike and Vina (minus the fucked-up carcasses and big-headed, throbbing-veined aliens of course), but that’s not immediately apparent and the journey to that discovery is fun and idiosyncratic. There are some definite WTF? moments as fantasy and reality collide with little advance notice. Supporting performances are all fine, with Schmitz as that ubiquitous cubicle terror we all hate and Brammall as Griff’s straight man brother.
Picture is good and and sound is fine in English 5.1 Dolby with English SDH and French subtitles. There is an audio commentary from writer-director Leon Ford, producer Nicole O’Donohue and actor Patrick Brammall. There’s a four-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and three Anatomy of a Featurettes which take a look at how scenes came together, including a low-tech, but nonetheless cool reality altering scene. Three are almost eight minutes of deleted scenes and a three-part self documentary by Ford titled Appear Calm: Diary of a First Time Director where he makes video log entries of his experience. They total about seven minutes. There are two very quick (like a minute long each) behind-the-scenes videos with Patrick Brammall, and a music video by The Shadow Bureau called “Don’t Give Yourself Away.” Surprising amount of special features for an indie DVD release. I think the disc is definitely worth a look.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars