THE YEAR IS 2086. Seventy years ago the entire human race turned invisible. Ten years ago, a small number of people began to mysteriously reappear. While theories exist, no one knows what's truly going on. When Guy, a conflicted artist, is presented with the knowledge that he has the potential to transform back to a visible state, he's faced with a tough dilemma: does he become visible and accept a life of vulnerability and possible judgment, or does he stay invisible and risk losing an existence of passion, honesty, and love?
The best science fiction takes a premise, however outlandish, and uses it to shine a spotlight on the human condition. It is one of the many great things about the genre. You can be looking at an alien, a robot or a genetically engineered super-human and learn something about the real world around you, or even better, learn something about yourself. The importance of recognising this is not lost on screenwriter Andrea Snider or director Clay Delauney as they craft a world of an almost comforting loneliness.
The opening shot of Visible leaves you in no doubt that this film intends to examine humanity itself. As our main character, Guy, played with a very convincing fragile confidence by Henry Ian Cusick, narrates the history of humankind becoming invisible over a long zoom in towards a painted portrait of an empty cityscape, the tone is immediately set for this allegory of how human beings have become invisible to each other through their technology.
Indeed, one of the most prominent features of this impressively well-crafted short is the abundance of subtle technology contrasted with a total absence of human presence. As Cusick’s main character points out, “we’re not people, we’re ghosts.” This revelation rings true in a world with entire lives lived out on social media, knowing that people are out there and even interacting with them without physically being a part of their lives.
The most disturbingly familiar thing about this observation is how comfortable the world has become with not truly being seen. Cusick’s character is awoken from his cocoon of invisibility by one of the ‘visibles’, played with an enchanting wisdom and quietly assured strength by Sonya Walger who challenges the notion of freedom and happiness against those who are invisible by suggesting that whether or not they are seen is a choice. The question then becomes, who has the courage to be seen being their true self by another human being.
Such musings of human nature could easily end up as the centre of a naval-gazing and listless story, but Snider’s succinct writing keeps the story on track, which allows room for Delauney’s direction, assisted by some truly astonishing cinematography from E. Gustavo Peterson to take its time in traversing Guy’s journey and immersing us in this alien, yet eerily familiar world. The result is a film that neither rushes nor drags during its 15 minute run time, but instead gives a stunningly visual and powerfully thoughtful insight into how so many of us live our lives.
Studio: Visible Films | Year: 2016 | Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama | Duration: 15 mins | Suitability: Mature - Strong use of language