by Rich Moreland, October 2018
Invictus is a film by Angie Rowntree and stars Delirious Hunter, Joeydotrawr, and Ava Mir-Ausziehen. Also appearing in speaking roles are Argus Hammer and Cat Belmont.
Spoiler Alert. This review reveals vital story elements that may influence viewers.
[Invictus is available online at Sssh.com. All photos included in this two-part review are likewise courtesy of Sssh.com.]
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Angie Rowntree is a noted feminist filmmaker whose stories are relevant to our times. Her directing talent is exceptional and her cast dedicated to producing an indie film suitable for mainstream viewers. Though Invictus doesn’t forget its adult film roots, it seldom dwells on them.
Jane and Paul
Invictus is a futuristic fantasy. The US has devolved into a chaotic dystopia and the few remaining freedom-loving souls (what we loosely would call “patriots”) are fighting to keep hope alive.
As the viewer joins the story, an authoritarian government has weaponized climate change, turning citizens into ‘wild people” who prey on one another for survival. But all is not lost. A mission to save a once multicultural collectivist America is on the time clock.
The opening credits roll and we get glimpses of the back story. A succession of quick news reports about the social issues of our time pass in review–the most important being climate change. Then everything suddenly falls silent as we hear, “signing off.”
We later learn this references the end of independent newscasts. Not surprising since the government is suppressing free speech.
The scene shifts to a solitary female figure with a backpack walking a lonely paved road. Passing a billboard that proclaims “climate change is real,” she comes upon an abandoned and disheveled house that offers momentary refuge. Note that her arrival is marked by four birds of prey circling in the sky.
In voice over, the hiker says, “It’s been nearly two weeks since I left Mount Weather.”
In fact, she is on a mission but her food and water are in short supply and she estimates making “the rendezvous point” is in doubt.
From here the narrative moves quickly. The woman is scientist Jane Darling (Delirious Hunter) and in the trashed dwelling she meets its squatter resident Paul Young (Joeydotrawr). He claims the building is not much but does have a “vibe” he humorously describes “post-apocalypse chic.”
Jane is unmoved by his levity and trusts no one. Her reaction is to defend herself and she is armed. This chick is not to be fooled with.
Invictus has three major themes. The first emerges early: freedom of the press and the supposed rise of fake news.
Paul was an independent newscaster who avoided capture when “they” came to arrest everyone at the station, he tells Jane. He suggests that she may have seen his face on billboards and declares people now chase “fake news” which we tacitly understand is government-controlled propaganda.
Paul rolls an apple across the floor to Jane, an “Adam meets Eve” gesture that sets up the explicit love-making we see later. She’s skeptical that the fruit is real before a bite convinces her it is. Apparently, the delicious treat came from rumored farmable land up north, Paul declares, and wants to find out if such a place exists.
Having established the fake news theme, the narrative moves to its second and overriding message–climate change and how the nutty fundamentalists have abetted the earth’s destruction. On that note, there’s revenge of sorts at film’s end.
Jane warns Paul of “pro-government thugs” who are out to hunt down “people who aren’t patriotic” which brings up a question. Can a person be a patriot and criticize the government? The film lets the viewer decide.
In the meantime, Invictus’ story line is set. Jane and Paul decide to unite for the journey they must take: she to the rendezvous point, he to the land of the fruit. This introduces the central image of narrative: the road.
We will look at that in Part Two.
There is one more element of importance in the film. From her backpack, Jane produces a flash drive that holds the key to an encrypted computer Ava, her colleague and friend, could not save when their offices were raided.
Jane is from the World Protection Agency, she tells Paul, and what is on the flash drive could save humanity. She and Ava plan to meet on her birthday in the field where they once admired a meteor shower together. The place has both an emotional and moral meaning for them.
In a broader sense, Invictus is a moral journey to save mankind. More simply, it’s the trek the flash drive must take. Jane and Paul are merely couriers, survivors navigating a “new apocalyptic world,” as Paul describes it, in which desolation and isolation are mankind’s enemies now.
Circumstance has brought them together. Both avoided arrest when their professional environments fell under assault. He wasn’t at the news studio and she was not at Mount Weather when the government raided both.
Now they are a new age Adam and Eve striving to regenerate civilization.
As the film progresses, their moxie is tested. The country has fallen into chaos: tribalism rules the countryside and the unlikely pair encounters violence on the road. Later in a fight over Jane’s backpack, Paul is stabbed. The attackers flee and his three-day recovery brings them closer.
Out of that, their personal visions and reveries lead to the film’s first two sex scenes, but more on that later.
A Comment on Filmmaking
Invictus is as much a tale steeped in symbolism as it is an adult film highlighting nudity and lovemaking. Because it is a rare combination of literary expression and art mixed with see-it-all sex, the film raises an important question.
Is it possible for an adult film created by industry directors and actors to become a Hollywood-worthy production? Does such an offering bridge the divide between two film worlds: pornography and mainstream?
To put the question another way, is Invictus part of an alternative genre created by independent filmmakers who believe uninhibited sexual expression is part of their storytelling and, by extension, the development of their characters?
Like Gone, an earlier award-winning Angie Rowntree film, Invictus does just that. What’s more, this production is also pro-woman and made by a feminist. But it takes a further step.
It also addresses an adult film audience that is often short-changed by the industry’s standard romantic comedies: couples. With Invictus, they get love in a turbulent world where fighting for a cause is preferable to a date night of fun and frivolity.
Finally, speaking of female power in a patriarchal world, Delirious Hunter’s character portrayal is the film’s driving force. Her acting skills are noteworthy and her sex scenes reveal a woman’s touch that compliments Angie Rowntree’s directing talent.
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All good filmmaking requires a team commitment . . .
And some fun along the way.
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Check out the trailer for Invictus. Bear in mind it is Not Safe for Work because of nudity and graphic sexual representation.