ABOVE THE SHADOWS – Review by Cate Marquis

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Above the Shadows is writer/director Claudia Myers’ fantasy film in which a young woman named Holly (Olivia Thirlby) is literally, rather than figuratively, invisible. However, Holly has taken her affliction of being invisible and turned it into her livelihood. A photographer, she takes secret photos of celebrities, which she sends to the publisher of a celebrity gossip publication. Her boss (David Johansen) thinks they have never met, of course, although she sometimes hangs out in his office, listening in on his conversations and offering snarky commentary he can’t hear. She’s like a ghost, no one can see or hear her, but she can move objects, use a smart phone to order things online, rent her apartment, and so forth. etc. It’s lonely but she can go anywhere, walk through any open door unchallenged and get as close as she likes to take her photos.

Then she encounters a bouncer who can both see and hear her. Turns out, they have a connection. Shayne Blackwell (Alan Ritchson) was once a rising star as a MMA fighter with a famous movie star girlfriend (Megan Fox), and a media darling. A photo Holly took ruined both his career and personal life. Suddenly struck with regret, Holly decides to do what she can to undo the harm, hoping it might also be a key to changing her own lonely life.

Holly wasn’t always invisible. Growing up, she was the middle child and the less-pretty daughter, which meant she was often overlooked by her sister, brother and Dad (Jim Gaffigan). Only her mother really saw her, but after her mother died, her life changed, Her family gradually stopped seeing her at all and, then it spread to school and other areas of her life. Soon, she didn’t even appear in photos.

Writer/director Claudia Myers could have taken this story in a more familiar direction but to her credit, she chooses a more thoughtful path. She gives it some good twists, reflects on the feeling of being invisible and on human connections, and still give the audience the fantasy tale entertainment they expect.

Like most good science fiction/fantasy, this tale is really about our world and the people who live in it. Actually, it is more a fairy tale or parable than science fiction, so analyzing how her invisibility works is pointless. You just have to go with it, but Above the Shadows will reward you for that journey.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Above the Shadows is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 19, 2019

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Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis is a film critic and historian based in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Marquis reviews film for the St. Louis Jewish Light weekly newspaper and Playback: stl website, as well as other publications. The daughter of artist Paul Marquis, she was introduced to classic and silent films by her father, as well as art and theater. Besides reviewing films, she lectures on film history, particularly the silent film era, has served on the board of the Meramec Classic Film Festival and is a long-time collaborator with the St. Louis International Film Festival, serving on various juries.