DVD Review: An Invisible Sign (USA, 2010)


An Invisible Sign paints with numbers in the worst possible way. This quirky film could have been an engaging look at a young woman who grapples with her father’s illness. But instead it has an unlikeable lead character and is an unrealistic and confused movie that meanders and plods along.

The film marks the feature debut by Marilyn Agrelo who has previously directed a documentary about students in New York learning ballroom dancing. Aimee Bender wrote the novel, An Invisible Sign of My Own which this film is based on. It stars Jessica Alba in the lead role as the 20-year-old Mona Gray (even though Alba looks closer to her then actual age of 30). Mona is a loner and maths obsessive. She regressed into her shell and turned to self-deprivation after her mathematician father (John Shea) became very ill.

Mona’s mother (Sonia Braga) feels that the best way to help her daughter is to throw her out of the family home and to get her a job teaching mathematics to primary school students (despite Mona having no qualifications to do so). The story sees Miss Gray connect with a student whose mother has cancer while also remembering her youth through some flashbacks to when she had an eccentric maths teacher (who wore numbers around his neck to denote how happy or sad he was).

The characters feel underdeveloped and contrived and the performances are average. The story also feels quite laboured and it is difficult to connect with Mona who presents as a strange obsessive compulsive (who engages in tapping and various other ritualistic behaviours). Instead of offering an insightful or thought-provoking look at mental illness or sickness this film frequently makes light of the situation, making it feel completely throwaway and forgettable.

An Invisible Sign is a quaint and saccharine film that is completely nonsensical. The episodes of serious drama are diluted by the crazy shenanigans that take place at the school and overall this story feels forced. This quirky film isn’t particularly interesting and it is an unpleasant adult fairy tale that is as enjoyable as an impossible algebra problem. In short, it’s one to miss.

Review Score: ONE STAR (OUT OF FIVE)

This DVD contained no special features.

An Invisible Sign is released on DVD in Australia through Eagle Entertainment on April 22.