It’s a question that comes to most people once in a while — what would we do if we could turn invisible? Would we use this power for good? Evil? Somewhere in between? What would it be like to do whatever we want without getting caught? It comes with a lot of imagination and curiosity. But what would it be like if we didn’t ask for this power and we had no choice? That’s what the new film Above the Shadows presents in a unique and tense melodrama.
The film revolves around Holly (Olivia Thirlby), who starts as a young pre-teen raised in a family that doesn’t really appreciate her. She’s the middle child and there are times she doesn’t feel like part of the family. That is, except, with her mother. The two have a lovely and meaningful relationship, but it falls short when Holly’s mother dies from cancer. This leaves Holly with a family that gradually forgets about her in the time of their grief. In a short amount of time, they forget about Holly completely. And it’s not just her family, but it’s the rest of the world too. No one can see nor hear Holly anymore even though she’s still walking and talking. This puts Holly in a cruel reality that while she’s still around, no one knows she exists.
The film cuts to Holly as a young woman and she somehow manages to become a useful member of society even if others don’t see her. She becomes her own type of private investigator who takes photos of others doing bad things and exposing them for who they are. It makes Holly appear to be a sneaky spy, but the job is obviously easy if no one can see her.
But something happens to Holly. While doing her photo work, a man kicks her out of a bar. So that means… he can see her! It turns out this man is Shayne (Alan Ritchson), a former professional fighter whose life has turned to tatters after committing his own sins. Now it’s up to Shayne and Holly to help each other find their paths again leading to a heartwarming yet strenuous connection.
As the film continues, Holly tries to help Shayne piece his life back together, but it comes with obstacles on both sides. Their journeys come with a need to find focus after feeling like giving up. It’s painful and it’s confusing. And it gets even more complicated when love gets in the way.
The film explained what was in store for Shayne’s path, that he could only walk through with the help from someone else. And Holly comes to her own terms with what it really means to be invisible. As much as she wants to guilt the rest of the world for shutting her out, only she can decide if she can be brought back in.
Thirlby’s charisma fits smoothly with her role as Holly. She perfectly pulls off the lonely Jessica Jones-ish kind of misfit who sits in the corner with mysterious energy, like a dark figure who disappears into the night. Ritchson, with his chiseled look and muscled physique, resembles a cage fighter well, but it’s his sensitivity and honesty that make him true to the heart.
There are also appearances from two bigger stars, including Jim Gaffigan, who plays Holly’s oblivious yet grief-stricken father. It’s definitely not the Gaffigan fans will know from his stand-up comedy, which can give the audience a new take that they can either appreciate or feel awkward about. Then there’s Megan Fox who plays Juliana, the ex-girlfriend of Shayne, who comes back into his life when he’s about to make a fighting comeback. Unfortunately, Fox’s time on screen is pretty short and doesn’t come with a lot of redemption. While the actress has always been known for her sultry looks and seductive vibe, who’s to say she doesn’t deserve a longer and more detailed storyline?
The film has its slow moments, but overall, it delivers a powerful message about failure and redemption. When bad things happen, there is an urge to blame everyone else- and while others may hold responsibility, it is not up to them to keep it that way. It is only up to whoever is willing to make the change they so desperately want to see in the world.