Movie Review: ‘Above The Shadows’

Review by Bradley Smith

What would it be like to be a fly on the wall? Movies and television shows frequently broach this topic with varying degrees of effectiveness. Above the Shadows has an intriguing premise and a beautiful, sad story, but the awe of the central plot device slowly fades as plot holes and familiar clichés begin to appear.

As a kid, Holly (played at this age by relative newcomer Fina Strazza) was often overlooked by her father (Jim Gaffigan) and her two siblings, one older, one younger. It was her mom that kept her engaged with the family. But, sadly, her mother falls ill and dies leaving the middle child ignored by her family. Soon, it is not just that they are ignoring Holly, Holly somehow turns invisible to the world around her, as evidenced by a photo that her dad takes. In addition to being invisible, she cannot be heard, and nobody can remember her. But she can physically interact with objects; think Ghost with Patrick Swayze, except this movie does not waste the money on special effects- the audience can almost always see Holly.

Cut to Holly as an adult (now played by Olivia Thirlby whose prior credits include Juno and Dredd). Holly has adapted to her state of being, as I imagine a lot of people would. Thanks to modern technology, it really is not difficult to live your life without interacting with another human being. The story rightfully skips over teenage Holly trying to figure out life without visibility or a voice and we get straight to adult Holly using her ability to expose celebrities as a freelance tabloid photographer.

That is until she runs afoul of a disgraced MMA fighter who is now working as a bouncer after one of Holly’s pictures ruined his career and relationship. Inexplicably, the fighter/bouncer, Shayne (Alan Ritchson) can see Holly and she thinks it means they need to help each other. The rest of the movie plays out as one might expect, complete with them falling for each other, breaking up, and reuniting in the nick of time.

With the help of talented actors and respectable character development, Above the Shadows has its sweet moments, dramatic moments, and fun carefree moments which will undoubtedly be a treat for the casual audience attendee. More analytical and eagle eyed viewers might question certain aspects surrounding her invisibility; i.e. why is her smartphone also invisible and unable to be stored in another phone’s memory? Then there’s the deep thinkers who may see a metaphorical parable about a middle child feeling ignored or an introvert using modern technology to disconnect from the world. This supernatural tale has a few layers worthy of discussion.

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