Griff the Invisible Review

For Griff (Ryan Kwanten), the world is his own; other people just happen to populate it. Some of them are thugs, some of them bullies, and others just merely exist. What really matters is that Griff is a superhero of the mind, donning a black suit to fight evil doers just outside his apartment, ignoring that they only battle his imagination.

So, yes, Griff is the odd man out, tormented at work and by his brother for child-like eccentricities. Still, there’s a match for everyone out there, or so it goes, Griff’s being Melody (Maeve Dermody). She’s a klutz obsessed with the ability to pass through walls or doors. It’s in the physics you see, and when sidetracked, she develops the art of invisibility… in her own mind.

Griff the Invisisble’s goal isn’t to make fun of the quirky or even berate it. Sure, there’s some fun at these character’s expense, Griff’s non-super escape from police after reports of a stalker hilarious, but it’s more about finding each other through the oddities of social awkwardness. That’s what turns out to be funny.

Griff opens on a heroic chase sequence, our super star careening the back alleys while setting the stage for this dreamer. The film loves to toy with the idea of what Griff is seeing, in his mind or in reality. Writer/director Leon Ford never defines a distinction between the two until its thematically necessary, a fun ploy that gives this indie effort a superior visual approach.

For all of its oddball antics, Griff finds itself in a repetitious circle, the lead in trouble at work, at home, and even on the streets. Most people give Griff a pass until the script kicks in and realizes it actually has a story to tell. His world collapses and then it’s over, the emotional toll carrying no ill effects, and whatever the intended message was (“to be yourself” the key candidate) just washed over if he’s never challenged.

The writing carries enough unusual qualities that Griff comes away mostly unscathed. Reusing the same basic material time and again sort of builds Griff’s inability to change, although to an extent, also makes his brief transformation utterly unbelievable. If the key sign for any comedy is the laugh quota though (and it is), this Australian effort is easy enough to survive and enjoy.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

Filmed with 16mm, this encode from Vivendi has some work to do. Forging ahead with VC-1, Griff will suffer from a number of compression-based anomalies, namely an extensively noisy appearance. The lower res film format can be beautiful under the right conditions, but this is clearly not the case here.

Griff’s travels will take him into a number of locales where walls swarm with chroma noise, the stairwell in the office simply atrocious. The thick grain structure so characteristic of 16mm is dominating over each image, and many close-ups involving minute movements will smear. Despite the gracious bitrate, Griff is still calling for more oomph from its digital partner.

Maybe it’s too easy to blame the color scheme, mostly because it deserves it. Flushed with saturated orange, teal, and blues, at times it appears no one had a clue how the film is supposed to look. Or, maybe they did, copying the Michael Bay formula with disastrous results. Flesh tones spend too much time in the sun one second before turning pale the next. Griff even thinks in orange and teal, his walls slathered in a neon-like orange, all of his computer monitors monochrome or two-tone teal. How hideous and obsessive.

For its many (many) faults, there’s still some material worth latching onto. The chosen film format remains capable of kicking up some clean, pure fine detail. Close-ups prove appealing in their texture, and for the most part, consistent too. Only a handful fail to generate some HD oomph, sometimes the cause being distinctive focal effects. Black levels carry weight and some of the detail with them, shadow detail rarely a highlight with 16mm. This is no exception. Contrast will give the office setting a flat, sterile look, just right for the mundane day-to-day grind.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

The score proves to be a fun mixture of quiet indie tunes and orchestrated hero riffs, both providing a fun mixture of audio cues and stern movement from the stereos into the surrounds. Fidelity is pure, and that goes for everything, not just the music.

Few moments offer much relief from the center-focused mix, the office environment spread about the sound field effectively, and the streets will capture a passing vehicle or two. Griff’s brief skirmishes with evil doers pack a figurative and physical punch, a few body blows resonating in the sub nicely. There’s a fun moment too where Melody envisions a car accident, the crunching metal placed precisely in the left surround. You can’t miss it.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Writer/director Leon Ford joins actor Patrick Brammall for a commentary track, kicking off plentiful but short bonus features. A behind-the-scenes featurette (4:09) is a basic promo, the three “anatomy of a scene” bits that follow more interesting. These contain raw footage from the set, each a couple of minutes in length. Deleted scenes last a little over the seven minute mark, and Rain Stops Play is a behind-the-scenes skit between actor and director.

Appear Calm is a production diary done by Ford, split into three sections (pre-production, shooting, and post). Combined, it’s less than 10-minutes worth of stuff. Patrick’s Set Tour has Brammall visiting various stuff around the shooting location with his own brand of commentary. There’s a music video here too if you’re a completionist.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

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