When a puzzling disease devastates her beloved father, math prodigy Mona Gray deals with the pain by isolating herself from the rest of the world and turning for comfort to the reliable world of mathematics. But when she later teaches math to troubled grade school kids, Mona discovers that her gift can be a route back from her long emotional exile. Marilyn Agrelo directs and Jessica Alba stars in this adaptation of the book by Aimee Bender.
Based on the novel of the same name by Aimee Bender, ‘An Invisible Sign’ follows Mona Gray (Jessica Alba), a numbers-obsessed twenty-something who finds herself dealing with a father who may or may not be going insane.
Mona makes a ‘deal with the universe’, giving up what she loves – except mathematics – so her father can miraculously recover. Mona becomes a math teacher to eight-year-olds even with the lack of degree and credentials to back her up. She befriends her student Lisa (Sophie Nyweide) who has a terminally ill mother and even manages to romance a co-teacher (Chris Messina). ‘An Invisible Sign’ is dubbed a quirky fairy tale from director Marilyn Agrelo. However, it is neither quirky nor fairy tale enough.
The first mistake of ‘An Invisible Sign’ is casting Jessica Alba who lacks the depth to play a very complex character as Mona. Here she is, giving up what is important to her in order to save her father, yet she can smile brightly and then walk through life, lifeless. As Mona, it’s a real feat that she can inspire and even pass for a math teacher.
This basically dictates the feel of the movie as well as the acting of its mostly adept cast. Whoever you pair on screen with Alba is just a sad picture. There’s a silver lining to this: the little girl Sophie Nyweide, who has more screen presence and acting bite than Alba.
‘An Invisible Sign’ boasts of interesting tricks, like Mona seeing numbers in nature and things around her and manifesting as pop-ups. Its cinematography by Lisa Rinzler gives it a dreamy, indie quality – at least it looks good. But with much cuteness comes great responsibility. The reason why quirky indies such as ‘Juno’ works is that even with the contrived dialogue and situations, the actors were impeccably cast and at the heart of the film is well, a vulnerable beating heart of a story. You cared and rooted for them because they warmed you all over.
You rated this film: 4
Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Classification is to be confirmed by the British Board of Film Classification