An Invisible Sign (2010) – Review

2 Stars


An Invisible Sign stars Jessica Alba as Mona Gray, a mathematically inclined woman who uses numbers as a coping mechanism for her father’s illness. As a young girl Mona’s father tells her a fairy tale with the moral of giving things up for love. She decides to give up everything she loves in hopes that the universe will return her father’s mental capacity back to normal. Years later her mother is tired of her daughter refusing to grow up. She spends all her time with her insane father, and it isn’t helping either of them. So she throws her out and sets her up with a job teaching math at Mona’s old elementary school. Forced into contact with a group of snotty kids, save one, Mona must learn to relate to and let others in. This includes the pushy science teacher, Ben Smith (Chris Messina) who is attracted to her strange and awkward ways. Will Mona uncover the true meaning of love? Of course she will.

This over exposed and grainy looking film fails in the classroom, but almost gets it right in the romantic comedy segments. In class Mona often stares off into the distance and just seems out of it. The children are always reminding her what their current assignment is and she comes off as being really disconnected from them in every way. Her compulsive behavior disorder isn’t used at all except for extreme moments, yet somehow one of the kids picks up on it.

While the classroom segments are weak, anytime Chris Messina comes into the picture he adds an energy that is sorely lacking. His smile actually overtakes Jessica Alba’s complete on screen presence. I’d really like to see him in a good romantic comedy. Alba does a fine job, but she’s the kind of actor that needs a good director. Here director Marilyn Agrelo just doesn’t pay much attention to what she’s putting on the screen or why. Instead of standing out An Invisible Sign would rather remain invisible, standing shoulder to shoulder with other more of the same dramas covering the same ground. This is a movie that emulates what someone would think a good indie drama would be, combining elements halfhazardly from better films without thinking about an underlying theme. The opening fairy tale story and how that applies to the ending is the only minuscule bit of genius here.

The supporting cast is great, although never given a chance to really shine. J.K. Simmons as Mr. Jones, Mona’s elementary school math teacher and next door neighbor, and John Shea as Mona’s not all there father disappear into their roles like the old pros they are. It’s not that this is a horrible movie, it’s just doesn’t try very hard. With glimpses of something better here and there An Invisible Sign is something to pick up if you’ve seen everything else.

Director: Marilyn Agrelo
Stars: Jessica Alba, Chris Messina, John Shea, J.K. Simmons

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