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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Invisible'
(Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Marquette, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2007 / BVHE)

Overview: From the producers of The Sixth Sense comes the gripping suspense-filled mystery, The Invisible. Nick Powell is a handsome young writer with a future as bright as he is. Then one tragic night he’s brutally attacked and left for dead — except he’s not. He’s trapped in a ghostly limbo where no one can see or hear him. Except for Annie, the one person who must get closer to Nick in order to save him from beyond his worst nightmare. If together they can quickly solve the mystery of his murder before it is too late, there’s a chance he’ll live again.

DVD Verdict: It's been said before, but I'm going to say it again: this movie is the pinnacle of false advertising. If you've seen the trailers, you know that one of the catchiest lines is, "How do you solve a murder when the victim ... is YOU?" Bum-ba-bum! And yep, there is no murder! Furthermore, there is no mystery. What is there? Oh ho! Let me tell you. I used to be a teenager, and although I know that the world has changed since I was navigating the rocky shores of puberty, I can still empathize and even relate to the emotional turbulence common among that time period.

OK, that said ... "The Invisible" was designed solely to cater to an audience of young adults who feel that their personal melodramas are in some way unique to them. The movie is a vehicle for mawkish hamminess, an attempt to validate the confusing mental mess that results when a young person finds their biological engines suddenly flooded with a strange new hormonal fuel.

The story concerns two "invisible" teens. One of them, Nick Powell (played by an over-earnest Justin Chatwin), is a spoiled "misunderstood" genius who writes vacuous poetry and wants to make a living out of it. Without his mother's knowledge (his father is dead, giving him exclusive rights to be mopey), he purchases a ticket to London so that he might join a prestigious writing class. He is rather self-absorbed, but I say that like most poets aren't.

The other "invisible" teen is the weirdly mad Annie Newton (played unevenly by Margarita Levieva). Annie's mother is dead (a parallel!) and her father and step-mom are laughably bad parents. This makes her want to steal things and beat people up. She is misunderstood, too, you see (although I got the impression that, like most of us, she rather likes being misunderstood).

At this point, I do have to give the movie credit for not including the line "You don't know me!" or "You just don't understand!" anywhere in the script. Kudos! Let's see. Oh, yes. Nick and Annie clash at school for a lot of "complicated" reasons, not the least of which being that Nick is egotistical and doesn't put up with Annie's disturbed-chick act (she wears all black and tries -- lamely -- to hide her good looks by wearing a skull cap for half of the film). One of Nick's "friends," Pete (perhaps the whiniest film character since Luke Skywalker), convices Annie that Nick is responsible for a recent snitching, and she responds by kicking Nick in the face several times. This puts him close to death. Close enough, that is, so that is soul leaves his body, but not the Earth.

This gives Nick the opportunity to wander around screaming at people and crying a lot. He also gets to go to class and hear all of his friends badmouth him since they don't know his spirit dwells among them. This also provides him with ample time to realize that his attacker, Annie, is really just a lonely, tortured, very sexy soul who dances moderately well. She also takes a very gratuitous shower, breaks into Nick's home and goes through his things, and manages to fool about twenty clueless cops. But she does it morosely and with a heafty dose of angst, so her actions endear Nick to Annie, you see, and I suppose they're supposed to endear her to us, as well.

Mix in an overwrought soundtrack that plays like an emotional scratch-n-sniff card, a pointless suicide scene, and a ludicrous implausibility involving what one can and cannot do after being shot in the stomach, and what you've got is a bloated metaphor about what it takes to be both accepted, loved, and a good person. Dripping with sweaty sentimentality and crippled by hammish histrionics, the movie's most insulting aspect is how excessively it tries to play to the hair-trigger emotions of a viewership that, presumably, is struggling with very real issues of growing up and self-realization. Instead of offering insights or even commiseration, this film serves up exorbitant passion and pretends like it's meaningful.

I don't mind (and even get and enjoy) films that deal with the trials and tribulations of teens (Heathers, The Breakfast Club, American Pie, and even Gus Van Sant's sere and quiet Elephant) but I have no patience for a teen film that thinks it doesn't have to be smart or relevant or clever as long as it's moody and melodramatic. Bart Simpson once said that "Making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel," but it doesn't take an adult to see straight through the manipulative mess of "The Invisible." This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary by: Director David S. Goyer and writers Christine Roum and Mick Davis
Over 13 minutes of deleted scenes
30 Seconds to Mars: "The Kill" music video
Sparta: "Taking Back Control" music video