It’s a bird, its a plane, well… plain old Griff. From all outward appearances Griff   is an introverted, quiet loner. A bully magnet who has just as much trouble holding down a job as he does grasping reality. The mild mannered Griff fields phone calls during the day, but at night he dons a sleek black getup, patrolling the streets in search of evil. His nocturnal exploits garner concern from his brother Tim as well as the local authorities. The more Griff is pushed around in his real life the more he delves into his alter ego — but there is just one problem: it’s all in his head.

No one understands Griff (Ryan Kwanten). He is bullied, dismissed and laughed at by everyone he knows, that is, until he meets his brother Tim’s (Patrick Brammall) girlfriend, Melody (Maeve Dermody). An accident prone, self professed experimentalist who is convinced that, under the right circumstances, she can walk through walls. Her idiosyncrasies are lost on her family and her boyfriend. Yet, when she meets Griff she only sees the superhero. Griff is now caught between his feelings for Melody and his honor. As the film progresses the lines between what is real and what is imaginary blur, begging the question, is being normal important if it means losing yourself?

Griff the Invisible is a quirky and enchanting film that percolates with imagination sincerity and heart from beginning to end. This is the first feature film for Australian director Leon Ford and it is clear he has put his whole heart into the project. While watching the film there is an overall feeling of warmth, due to the total dedication to idea and clarity of vision behind the film. It weaves together the ridiculous and the mundane seamlessly, never conflicting them, but rather enhancing the two. Griff’s life something everyone can relate to in one way or another.

From a superhero fan perspective the film is cause for introspection. As Griff submerges himself in his fantasies it is hard to look at him and say, he’s crazy, because, after all, what self respecting superhero fan hasn’t done something similar one, or two, or a million times themselves? Who amongst geeks hasn’t built their own superhero costume or longed for a wall full of monitors linked into the city’s crime prevention network (if there even is such a thing)? Griff has all of this and more. But you don’t have to be a fan of the superhero genre to empathize with Griff. In his day to day persona he takes such abuse that you have to feel sorry for him, leaving you wondering why can’t anyone just relate to Griff? So, when Melody comes along you want to see their relationship blossom. It must be fate.

There is a dichotomy between the ridiculousness of Griff’s fantasy world and the concerns of the people around him who care and worry about his mental health and physical well being. There is a point where the viewer worries too. Is this guy going to become homeless and die because he is so crazy? It is a balance between a real emotional connection with the character and a willingness to escape with him that ads to the film’s appeal.

What may fall short for some is the lack of real crime fighting by Griff. He does have his fantasy battles with costumed goons, but we are never shown a real life instance of Griff confronting hoodlums in his neighborhood or rescuing the neighbor’s cat, from the perspective of “normal” people. The film also lacks a real superhero-type crisis. It leaves you wanting that big good-versus-evil showdown. This could have quickened the pace of the film, which did tend to drag a little bit near the end of the second act. By that time, however, you’re already along for the emotional ride and the need to know the fate of our hero eclipses any small shortcomings.

That being said, the acting is fantastic and the dialogue is natural and creative, not to mention realistic. Combined with a great soundtrack, Griff the Invisible is ultimately a story about love; loving people for who they are and loving yourself for who you are. After all, isn’t love what every hero truly fights for in the end?

Griff the Invisible opens in Toronto on August 19,2011 at AMC Yonge and Dundas and Canada Square.