The Invisible Man is an Australian made film that encourages our local industry to grow up and get with the times.
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The Invisible Man is also another attempt from Universal Pictures to breathe new life into their monsters franchise and it looks like they’ve got it right this time thanks to a deal with the highly credible Blumhouse, a great cast and an extremely talented director.
Director Leigh Whannell is one of Australia’s best directors right now. He’s last couple of films have him looking like a modern day Hitchcock. But like all good Australian artists we had to send him away to achieve that status, instead of supporting him over here.
A home grown tragedy
That is the shit thing about how the mainstream media and the government in this country perceive the arts community. It happens with music and it happens even more with film. Unless you’re making the next Top End Wedding, Ride Like a Girl or Storm Boy you’ve got buckley’s of being supported and you’re forced to either fuck off overseas to make it big or die trying. It’s because of this attitude they have of making “home grown stories” and showcasing our way of life.
They could also do that by supporting young talented directors, and bringing big productions here so the people get the experience of working on them.
It used to be if you wanted a gig in the entertainment industry in Australia it was either on commercial TV or radio, but Bothe of these industries are dying and the demand for jobs is getting smaller.
Who made it?
Leigh Whannell is showing Australia how it should be done and we’d be wise to adapt to it.
He makes The Invisible Man and guess what? Even though the movie is set in San Francisco, he films a large chunk of it in Australia! He works with Blumhouse, on a shoestring budget and he stretches it by bringing that American money to Australia thus making it go a hell of a lot further.
Now culturally it’s not an Australian movie, but it is Australian made. It was shot here with an Aussie director and crew. As a result it showcases the talents of the people working behind the cameras in our local industry on a global stage. That, potentially, is going to be much larger that the audience watching some kid play with a bunch of Pelicans.
The story of the Invisible Man bears little resemblance to the H.G. Wells story and it’s smarter and a hell of a lot more relevant for it. At it’s core it’s a story of domestic abuse and the lingering trauma that someone can suffer long after the fact. It follows the story of Cecelia Kass attempting to escape her manipulative, abusive boyfriend Adrian Griffin. Adrian is a big deal in the tech community, an entrepreneur who has amassed significant wealth and power due to his work in the field of optics. He’s also the worst kind of narcissist anyone could imagine.
One night Cecelia successfully escapes Adrian and that sends him into a rage that pushes his already deranged and abusive nature into thermonuclear meltdown. We’re talking next-level gaslighting that starts with faking his own death and becoming invisible in order to sabotage her every move and isolate her from the people she cares about.
The Invisible Man is a didactic narrative that highlights the struggle many women face in abusive relationships. The true nature of the man remains invisible to all around them except to the woman he torments, people refuse to accept the nice guy they know to be the monster she describes, the woman becomes withdrawn, fearful and doesn’t know where to turn. How do you know if someone is in an abusive relationship? Sometimes by the time it becomes apparent, it’s either been going on for some time or it’s too late.
The cast are, for the most part, really good. Harriet Dyer is great as Cecelia’s sister Emily. Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid play a totally convincing father and daughter who providing refuge for Cecelia after she escapes. Micheal Dorman is suitably sleazy as Adrian’s Lawyer brother and executor of his estate, Tom. The weakest performance probably comes from Oliver Jackson Cohen as Adrian, although perhaps that’s because you don’t see all that much of him.
This movie really does belong to Elizabeth Moss who puts in an absolute outstanding performance as Cecelia. While the level of abuse she receives at the hands of Adrian isn’t really detailed in the film, audiences will utterly believe that whatever it was, it must have been pretty fucking traumatic. She really is an incredible actor and she turns it on in this movie.
Aussie Cinematographer Stefan Duscio pulls some really great shots, especially when it comes to filming an invisible character. The camera really dances with Moss’s performance, set to the intense soundtrack provided by Benjamin Walfisch. The end product has the audience searching the screen for anything amiss in the background, an indentation in the couch, a ripple in the curtains, just the slightest bit of movement. It adds so much to the tension. Where is the invisible man?
People will adopt this film as being some kind of cinematic expression of the #MeToo movement, but this kind of thriller is nothing new. The heroine in peril, fighting to reclaim her life has been around for years. audiences want to draw some kind of on trend ‘woke’ inspiration from that so be it.
The only disappointing thing was that it fell flat in the final act as it devolved into more of an action thriller. However the movie works so well over all, because it preys on real world fear. The fear of being watched when you’re at your most vulnerable, the fear of making yourself vulnerable to someone only to find out they are not who you thought they were and the fear of not being believed. Whannell cashes in on all of these with devastating effect.
The Invisible Man is a must see.