Tuesday, July 24, 2007

THE INVISIBLE: Insights into Bohsia kids

THE INVISIBLE (sci-fi thriller)
Cast: Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden, Christopher Marquette and Michelle Harrison
Director: David S. Goyer
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
Chatwin and Levieva in THE INVISIBLE

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? The "Invisible" of the title refers to what Malaysians call the 'Bohsia' (hokkien for 'no noise' or 'silent') generation. They are the so-called neglected children of busy parents who are so involved in their career and activities that they have no idea about what the kids are doing. The only time they get to interact with their kids is when tragedy strikes - like when the police arrive with news that their son or daughter has been arrested for taking drugs, or injured in street-racing.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? "The Invisible", a remake of the 2002 Swedish film "Den Osynlige" (based on Mat Wahl's novel), deals with two such teenagers: Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin) and Annie Newton (Margarita Levieva). Nick is a bright and sensitive student who writes poetry and seems to be heading for a bright future. However, after the death of his father, he has a problem trying to connect with his control-freak of a mother (well played by Marsha Gay Harden) who cramps his style. Nick even plans to run away to London. Annie, on the other hand, is the high school thug who deals in drugs and terrorises her schoolmates with her own gang. Her mother has deserted the family and her domestic life is a nightmare. Her boyfriend (Alex O'Loughlin) is a paroled convict who makes use of her street-smarts to get by. One night, after stealing gems from a display cabinet, Annie is arrested. Somehow, she figures that Nick has snitched on her, and after beating him senseless, leaves him for dead in a ditch. However, Nick is not dead. His 'spirit-in-limbo' moves about the school and town, trying desperately to get someone to trace his body. Of course, no one can see or hear him, except perhaps for Annie. Or is it really just her conscience playing tricks on her?

HIGHS & LOWS: The movie is all about alienation and Nick's out-of-body experience is just a medium to emphasise the problem. We see Nick throwing books and stuff in his need to get attention, but nothing changes. Is this a reflection of his previous, real-life situation too? Annie, meanwhile, struggles alone to find redemption and provide a future for her little brother - the only person she ever loves.
However, it is too little and too late as director David S. Goyer has not bothered to provide enough details of her background for us to understand her.Instead, Goyer continues with a "Ghost"-styled story that intimates that victim and culprit are falling in love! Of course, this follows a scene where Nick's spirit spies on Annie when she is in the shower. A cinematic fodder sequence for voyeurs in the audience, no doubt, but nonetheless effective in suggesting a romantic connection in the midst of a frantic rush to save a life.
Levieva is effective as the good-girl-turned-bad Annie, and Harden, as usual, is a godsend among the cast. Chatwin, as the protagonist, however, does not seem to relate well with the audience. Perhaps, it is his droopy-eyed looks and lack of screen presence, but we don't root for him as much as we do for Levieva, or even Chris Marquette (as Nick's hopeless friend, Pete).

THE LOWDOWN: Coming back to the 'Bohsia' phenomenon, let me add that children of every generation are somehow alienated from their parents. This applies to the Baby Boomers of the 50s and 60s too - only that they did not have time to feel alienated as many had to help support their families with errands and chores. 'Invisibility' becomes more apparent in this age of easier global communications.


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