‘Il Ragazzo Invisibile’
The Invisible Boy is available to stream.
Like the titular hero at its heart, Oscar-winning Italian director Gabriele Salvatores The Invisible Boy (Il Ragazzo Invisibile) vanished outside of Italy – his delightful 2014 comic-book-inspired treat languishing in a void until 2016 in the UK. Even when it finally arrived on digital, there was no fanfare, which is a pity because The Invisible Boy is a unique and engaging treat. Salvatores couples Michele’s (Ludovico Girardello) adventures with the trials and tribulations of early adolescence – his newly discovered and decidedly tricky superpower, both exciting and deeply problematic.
As the film opens, young Michele sits uncomfortably on the periphery of his peer group, neither accepted nor disliked; his presence at school verges on invisibility to all but two school bullies. Both of these boys make Michele’s life a living hell as they devise new torments that seek to humiliate him at every opportunity due to his mother’s job as the local Police Inspector. But it’s not all bad, and Michele is excited by the prospect of an upcoming Halloween party where he plans to wear an awesome Spider-Man costume he’s saved up for. Alas, Michele bullies thwart his plans after stealing his cash, and Michele is forced to seek a budget outfit. As he wanders the town seeking something cheap, he finds a small Chinese store, and with only five euros to his name, he purchases a tight-fitting and decidedly dull superhero costume.
Michele heads to the party, conscious that his costume is too tight and way too revealing for a teenage boy. But, needs must, and nothing will distract him from talking to his classmate and secret crush Stella (Noa Zatta). But on arrival, Michele, once again, finds himself at the centre of group humiliation – his only escape, the bathroom, where he wishes he was invisible.
They say you should always be careful what you wish for in the heat of the moment and never was this more true than for Michele. As he wakes from his slumber, Michele finds he is completely invisible! Thinking things through as he moves around his bedroom, Michele’s only answer to this puzzle is that the cheap costume he purchased and his wish has somehow conspired to make him disappear. But that’s not all that swirls around Michele’s head as he considers the potential of this new power.
Michele quickly learns his new disappearing act has more than a few positives, including the torment of his bullies, the ability to listen to secret conversations, and even the freedom to sneak into the girls changing room. However, there is also a downside, as his invisibility also wears off over time, something Michele quickly learns as he is left standing naked on several occasions. But are Michele’s new powers attached to a wish, or has puberty unleashed a much more significant genetic change?
The Invisible Boy is delightfully fresh and engaging throughout, paying homage to X-Men, Spider-Man and the original Invisible Man while also finding its own distinctive Italian voice. The Invisible Boy leaves us wanting more as it weaves its way toward a delicious twist and conclusion; however, on writing this review, the sequel is not available here in the UK, meaning we will all have to wait for unknown length of time before joining Michele on his next big adventure.
Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Cast: Ludovico Girardello, Valeria Golino, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Christo Jivkov, Vernon Dobtcheff