Invincible (2022) Short Film Review

Invincible (2022)
Director: Vincent René-Lortie
Screenwriter: Vincent René-Lortie
Starring: Léokim Beaumier-Lépine, Ralph Prosper, Élia St-Pierre, Isabelle Blais, Pierre-Luc Brillant

Vincent René-Lortie’s 96th Academy Awards Live Action Short nominee Invincible is 2024’s most pressing, well-constructed, noticeably artistic and powerful of the five films nominated in the category.

Shot and made in Montréal, Québec, Canada, Invincible looks every bit the part, presenting a boxed frame and grainy texture that seems to illuminate each crease in its characters’ skins and every pore in their faces. Each frame celebrates both natural light and darkness, emphasising shadows. This particular technique lends itself to the duality of our protagonist, or the darkness his childlike wonder and imagination battles against. He is a 14-year-old boy at a juvenile detention facility whose imprisonment drives him to different means of self-expression, whether that be an expression of intelligence, pride, happiness or pain. He is rebellious as a response to being treated as less-than human, he is a tumultuous soul we can see is in desperate need of the love and attention every teenager deserves.

This is a tragic story of an unwanted young man, oppressed and restricted by a system established through fear not love. It’s a message of how real, human, child-like any given teenager is, no matter their history. How they’re effected by the little and big things that exist in society and their day-to-day regardless of their backgrounds, their lives, their upbringings. In Invincible, Léokim Beaumier-Lépine plays Marc with a fiery attitude and a hopeless perspective, the natural childlike features of his face contrasting those with an utterly engaging draw towards sympathy and understanding. His work is beyond exceptional for anyone of any age, but is outstanding for such an inexperienced performer in the early moments of his career.

When contemplating any boxed format Québec film centred upon misunderstood characters, critically acclaimed filmmaker Xavier Dolan is the name most people would consider (and rightly so, as he has become the standard-bearer). Invincible is so exceptional in construction, presentation, and intention, that it is worthy of a comparison to Dolan’s Mommy, one of the great films of the 2010s. Both tackle the same subject matter and hold an empathetic gaze towards the youths they centre upon, effortlessly capturing the dirt and darkness of the human experience within the camera and within their narratives. Whilst Mommy does benefit from a deeper portrayal, owing largely to its feature-length runtime, Invincible is impeccable in its ability to build character and empathy as quickly as it does.

Invincible feels true, most importantly. It then becomes true once a title card reveals it to be so. The filmmakers in this instance have the confidence to believe that the truth of the piece will speak for itself, and we each benefit from this confidence and the structure it dictates, empathising with this story wholeheartedly before being taken out of its world and back into our own for a thud of truth.

It is a remarkable short film. This is not only a film of great cinematography but one of great structure, composure, and realisation. The acting is exceptional, and the combination of acting, direction and writing ensure that nothing is overplayed or dramatically underscored. Everything feels natural despite how wholly cinematic the presentation is. There are set pieces, so to speak, one in particular featured in the trailer in which the teenage boy is underwater in a shot straight out of a Lynne Ramsay film, and yet these moments only act to elevate the empathy this film strives for – these moments never take focus away from how Invincible is set upon getting each of us to care.

With some fantastic filmmaking elements and a likeness to Xavier Dolan’s work that is both inevitable and praiseworthy in itself, it is clear that those working on Invincible have had a singular vision that they have constructed with class and purpose at every stage of the filmmaking process, ensuring a genuinely sensational short film that should not be missed.

Score: 24/24

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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