my invisible man review is that it was excellent. and an important milestone for
 elizabeth moss. greatness makes itself known early on. its debut is an event li
ke a movie's opening box office, which reliably sets a peg from which you can ex
trapolate its future. invisible man will have a strong first weekend -- it may "
have legs". we can now say for sure that moss's career does too. in jordan peele
's us she hinted that she had a really great horror performance in her, but the 
part was small. this role gives her every bit of space to unleash that performan
ce, and very few tools to help her. her costar is invisible. but isn't that what
 starpower is? when you're staring at only one person, everyone else becomes inv
isible. certain actors are soloists like this, movies unto themselves: andy serk
is, bill murray, now moss. her greatest strength is transparency; she lets you s
ee straight through the facade to the core of the character, and can communicate
 a great deal without speaking. in an early, paranoid moment, she marches hersel
f out to the mailbox to test herself, like a heart patient taking a lap around t
he ward. her desire to flee is evident in every gesture, her locked elbows and d
arting eyes. she takes emotional strain and runs scales on it, from that nervy a
goraphobia into full Sarah Connor shellshock to a classic scream queen shriek. i
 can't think of many actresses who could dominate a part this demanding. as her 
contemporaries (alison brie, anne hatheway) transition from ingenue roles with m
ixed results, i can see a path for moss that is decades long. the only trick wil
l be finding enough roles that will allow her to feast to this degree. so let's 
discuss the guy who built her this vehicle, her second invisible costar: leigh w
hannell, the writer/director. i think this movie is his debut, too. the first sh
ot is quietly showy. the camera is trained on a wave-lashed rock. it's nighttime
. every few seconds the waves crash, throwing spray. but the water falls oddly, 
in straight lines, and we realize that the opening credits are hanging right in 
front of us, transparent in air. this is not an easy shot to get, unless i under
estimate a 7m budget's capacity to secure excellent water sims. no, i think it w
as real, which meant he had the vision to insist on somebody heading out with a 
camera well past dark to film some rocks. while doing so, they had to mentally e
dit in the forthcoming credits, so that they knew when they had a sequence of wa
ves that was long enough and had a good enough tempo to get in all the necessary
 names. and then they make a camera move to conclude the damn thing, tilting up 
to reveal the main character's house. that level of design and premeditation ann
ounces to the viewer your intention to impress and control them. in a movie whic
h centers around a controlling psychopath, tainting even the camera's presence i
n this way is a clever move. it's similar to david fincher's perversely steady, 
probing camera in panic room. whannell borrows that, but fuses it with other inf
luences. he's the prodigy-as-magpie, like quentin tarantino. these guys are conn
oisseurs, peddling rare goods from exotic lands. this is a perfectly viable posi
tion to occupy: we always have a few slots in the director's guild for cultural 
mavens. because while we appreciate art, our desire to track it down ourselves i
s limited. we want it brought to us, curated for us. so we trust people like tar
antino, del toro, and wes anderson to go on cinematic safaris and bring us back 
the goods. whannell is odd in that he's doing exactly that, but he's an aussie, 
so his foreign curios are being sourced from our american backyard. he's giving 
us carpenter, fincher, maybe even some hitchcock. but this feels like a new piec
e of hollywood being minted, not just rummaged up and displayed. filmmakers of h
is type don't always manage it. tarantino did with christoph waltz in his nazi m
ovie, and with sam jackson in pulp fiction, but a lot of his stuff never rises a
bove, 'i saw this cool movie one time'. same for wes anderson. he got in the gol
den goose business and gathered up his troupe as nervously as a hen, to carry hi
m when his writing & affectations couldn't. it's a great sign that whannell coul
d do this well in his first outing with a truly talented performer.