I was reading a news story recently about a young girl who had a change of heart and didn't want to slaughter the goat she raised for 4-H. She and the state senator who bought the goat came to an agreement.
Should have been a happy ending, right?
It wasn't. Of course. The conference center got involved. Needlessly. The police got involved. Needlessly.
The goat was, in fact, slaughtered by the police who went way out of their way to actually get the goat. Mind you, this young girl had already lost three close family members recently.
In other words, people who had no reason to be a**holes simply chose to be a**holes.
I thought about this girl, and this goat, a lot while watching writer/director Cody Clarke's goat-free Invisible Shark. It's a film that soars on the strength of its lead performance from Belle Pace as Brooke, a young woman who struggles through life after an unbelievable encounter with an invisible shark.
Sound absurd? Yeah, it kind of is. Sound experimental? Yep, it's kind of that.
Truthfully, Invisible Shark isn't a film and that's quite alright. We have enough films in the world trying to be for everyone. It's kind of refreshing to get the occasional film that you just know the vast majority of the people are, quite honestly, going to hate.
Because most people, if we're being honest, are the kind of people who would slaughter a kid's goat just because they can.
Invisible Shark isn't for those people. Invisible Shark isn't for the goat haters of the world and it's sure not for the kind of people who would just slaughter a kid's goat to teach them a lesson.
Don't be like those people. Be more like Cody Clarke and Invisible Shark.
On the surface, Invisible Shark is a trivial film with a goofy little premise. While I'm all in for a trivial film with a goofy little premise, as Invisible Shark strips away its facade it becomes both a comedy and a drama yet never quite a dramedy. There are layers to Brooke that are absolutely mesmerizing to watch unfold and they unfold rather beautifully in the hands of Belle Pace, whose intuitive performance finds all of Brooke's quirks and nuances and even vulnerabilities. While it should be obvious that Invisible Shark is about more than simply an invisible shark, for those patient enough to hang with the film Clarke rather quietly weaves in elements of history, trauma, and the human need for connection. At times, Invisible Shark is like a low-budget Godot. Other times, Invisible Shark has the precision of Cinéma du look.
As is always true for a Clarke film, much of the work comes from Clarke himself including writing, directing, lensing, and editing the film. Clarke even makes an appearance in the film, though rest assured that it's Belle Pace who is deservedly front-and-center here.
Invisible Shark isn't a film for everyone, however, for those with an appreciation for the more experimental and risk-taking side of cinema it's a film with many rewards to offer. Headed toward release from Kill the Lion Films later this month on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi, Invisible Shark weaves together its complex elements into a film that makes you laugh a little, reflect a lot, and reach out just a little bit more.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic