The Invisible
Director: David S. Goyer

Directors: Joel Bergvall
& Simon Sandquist

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The InvisiblePrivileged kid Nick (Justin Chatwin), with an overbearing overprotective widowed mother (Marcia Gay Harden), sells essays to dumb jocks at school. He imagines himself a writer.

Annie (Margarita Levieva), an attractive loser of a cell-phone drug-dealing chick, is the wrong-side-of-the-tracks sort of gal, with an awful homelife but clearly enough cash on hand for a Hollywood hairstylist.

Their paths converge inThe Invisible (2007). So it's drug dealer for teen addicts with essay vendor for cheating jocks, privileged-class boy with lower-class girl. It's beginning to look like it's going to be a starcrossed lovers sort of tale, but that's mostly an illusion, as the tale is headed elsewhere.

It wasn't easy for me, a wrong-side-of-the tracks type myself, to quite relate to Nick whose worst moments in life seem to be when his mother won't let him go to London for a writers' retreat. He never quite makes it, but the dumbass decides to take off for the retreat anyway, not telling his mom he's going.

The InvisibleIf you didn't read about this film in advance, where it goes from this point will be a surprise. So I'd recommend reading no further in this review/overview, as it's definitely calls for a BIG TIME SPOILER ALERT!

Annie has just robbed a jewelry store window, without getting "proper" permission from her boyfriend Marcus (Alex O'Loughlin), a parolee who has just stolen a car that now has to become a gettaway car.

Marcus is peevish about it & unwilling to share the profits of their thefts. So he soon causes her to get arrested, but she thinks it was was Nick's friend Pete (Chris Marquette) who ratted her out, due to her delight in humiliating him in school.

When Pete is threatened with Annies revenge, he can't convince them he knows nothing about any of it, so wimps out & tells Annie & her assistant bullies it was Nick who got Annie in trouble.

This leads to her killing Nick, half accidentally since she'd only intended to get him beaten up. Terrified by what's happened, she has her thuggish helpers hide the body in a drain.

Even so, amazingly enough, Nick shows up in class as if nothing happened to him. But he slowly realizes no one can see or hear him.

The InvisibleA police detective (Callum Keith Rennie) begins looking for the missing kid. As a tale of detection, the script is weak, as he's so good at detecting, without any actual clues, that you'd think he was a psychic.

With a less-effective-than-Donny-Darko-mood, Nick moves invisibly through a familiar world. Undetected, he sees behind the fascade of his mother. He sees behind Annie's mask, too. Where once he felt rebellious, he begins to feel compassion for people other than himself.

By the film's one clever scene, Nick learns he's probably alive, & might be saved if his hidden comatose body can be found in time. He strives to affect things & save himself, but his interactions with the material world are restricted & not very helpful.

Pete, Nick's weak cowardly friend, helped malignant Marcus move the body, so even when Annie attempts to make it right, the body's gone. Guilt-ridden Pete would like to come clean, but is scared of both Annie & Marcus, so he decides to attempt suicide instead of coming clean -- as if that'd make him less dead than if he were killed.

Rather imaginative at times, the gloomy teen fantasy unfortunately falls to pieces at the end, with suicide, Annie's nonsensical shoot-out with her boyfriend, cluttery arrival of police, one "big" but very phony scene at the dam, dieux ex machina magic amulet tossed in along with the kitchen sink, & for all that still just a Hallmark or Oxygen Channel sentimental twaddle. [END SPOILER ALERT]

I enjoyed the first half hour or so, about young people coping with life & acting out their disappointments. After that, it turns into a bad episode of the terrible tv series Ghost Whisperer. With better direction & much better actors, & a few improvements to the script, it might've been a much more arrestng film. And that assertion is easily proven:

Des OsynligeThe Invisible was a remake of a Swedish film, Den Osynlige (Invisible, 2002), which was in turn based on a Swedish young-adult novel by Mats Wahl which is available translated into English from Farrar Straus Giroux.

You'll need either a PAL format or region-free player to see the original film with subtitles; as I write this, it hasn't an official North American release, other than pirated, though a 35 mm print for theatrical showings exists. If you do have a choice as to which version to see, & don't want to bother seeing two versions, go for the original. It's decidedly better.

It starred Gustaf Skarsgard as Niklas & Tuva Novotny as Annelie. It won film festival awards all over Europe. In the novel, by the way, the protagonist is not named either Nick or Niklas, but Hilmar.

The Swedish actors do a vastly more credible job of conveying gloomy emotion beyond mere teen angst, but of lives seriously in trouble. Novotny in particular is superb at being one hell of a frightening girl yet for whom one cannot help but have empathy.

The ridiculous "action scenes" with gunplay in the remake are ridiculous, but with only a few differences in event, & much greater capacity to seem menacing, the Swedish original places even the movie-style action in credible perspective.

Des OsynligeShapeless & half-hidden in her loose sweater & knit hat low on her face, Novotny is not trying to be a babe actress playing a role in a movie; she's trying to be the haunted, tragic Annelie, & she's succeeding, as collectively "we are the invisible."

By comparison, the remake wants Annie to be formost a babe, & so loses the whole sense of our anti-heroine, in context of her life, being scarsely any more visible than Nick. In fact, the title which uses "invisible" as a noun seems merely an illiteracy in the remake, but in full context, "The Invisible" is a plural noun meaning both key characters, & isn't illiterate after all.

Then there's Skarsgard as Niklas, much more convincing as an teenage Byron or angsty young poet. In simple scenes like when he stands unseen in front of his mother to say, "Mother, I'm dead," & she closes the door on him thinking no one's there, it's just gutwrenching to see the lonely expression on his face. There's never a moment in the remake has such an impact.

None of the honesty & sense of sad truth translated to the remake with anything resembling this power. It might in part be the gloomy tone of the Swedish language itself, the same as one gets from a Bergman film, but it's undeniable the Swedish actors were superb performers & their counterparts in the remake they were only average & way too prettified.

Plus the original version did not have the insipid "happy" ending for Nick/Niklas, so as with nearly all hollywoodized remakes of fine European films, the original was an edgier better film.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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