Cinequest 2024 – The Invisibles

This one of a series of reviews from this year’s Cinequest film festival in San Jose, California. Read more about the festival here, and buy tickets for showings of this and other films here.

In the midst of a crumbling marriage and a stalled career, Charlie (Tim Blake Nelson) feels increasingly invisible-until one day he literally disappears from the world. The Invisibles takes us on a visually arresting journey to a parallel dimension where the Disappeared co-exist, unnoticed by the real world.

When attending a film festival, you always need to think about the categorization of a film, and how that will affect the storytelling. The Invisibles appears in the Cinequest 2024 catalog under the dual category of Fantasy / Drama. And while both are correct, it sells the film short. But then, I’m hard pressed to find a category that would give the appropriate credit due here.

We’re faced with a common dramatic situation. Something has happened to Charlie (Tim Blake Nelson) and Hannah (Gretchen Mol) that’s putting a fatal level of stress on their relationship. At the same time, Charlie’s job situation is crumbling, out of his ability to control. Again, a starter situation for many dramas.

And then Charlie starts to disappear. Subtly done by screenwriter and director, he slips out of the consciousness of those around him. At first being passed over for promotion, people forgetting his name, not noticing him on his commute. And then, he’s totally invisible, intangible, and unable to interact with those around him.

I really don’t want to spoil much more than the promotional materials other than to say there’s a definite cause and effect happening here. The initially undescribed event that was breaking Charlie and Hanna’s relationship is somewhat responsible for the fantastic things that happen to Charlie. The use of invisibility and intangibility as a metaphor for the separation grief can cause works well, and then extends a bit past that.

The bulk of the film leads us along on a journey with Charlie. As we learn the new rules of his situation, a new take on a not uncommon trope, Charlie begins to investigate his new world and piece together what it’s all about. This is where the film becomes fantastic.

I must admit that as a fan of fantasy and science fiction films, I defaulted into puzzle mode. I was busy through a lot of the film piecing together the pieces of the puzzle. Elements added give hints, and there is a bit of satisfaction for the fannish mind here. But unlike a lot of other such films, it’s not just a matter of finding a way out, a special door, or password, or clicking of heels. This is a story of paralyzing grief, loss, and inability to deal with devastating sorrow. The answer isn’t a simple trick, and that’s all for the better.

I will say that I was unexpectedly grabbed by the film when I least expected it. Emotionally impacted, and for that I was grateful to the filmmakers, Andrew Currie and Colin Aussant, for their story. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a deeper investigation into losing, loss, and becoming lost. While that might sound paradoxical, it is worth the trip.

March 10 at 2:15 PM
March 11 at 2:25 PM
More info and tickets here

If you miss the live shows of The Invisibles you can also watch it online through Cinejoy.

The Invisibles trailer

Ric Bretschneider
March 10, 2024
San Jose, California

This entry was posted in Art, Cinequest, Film, Media, Movies, Personal, SciFi Fantasy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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