Fantasia 2016: Superpowerless review

In the film Superpowerless, actor Josiah Polhemus plays former superhero Captain Truth. The film had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

In the film Superpowerless, actor Josiah Polhemus plays former superhero Captain Truth. The film had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.

The poster for Superpowerless calls it “A coming-of-middle-age story.”

Bob used to be Captain Truth, sort of the Batman of San Francisco – he didn’t have a fortune, a mansion, or a souped-up car, but he did save the good citizens from muggers, accidents and natural disasters. He also had a diminutive sidekick named Liberty Boy. Seriously.

Bob can still speak in the deep, threatening tones of Captain Truth, but he can’t come through with fists and feet and he doesn’t dare try to fly. His powers have faded away and he doesn’t know what to do next. He’s lost his “job,” his identity and he’s not yet ready to be normal and ordinary.

Nowadays, Bob (Josiah Polhemus) stays home drinking, or he wanders the streets aimlessly while his girlfriend Mimi (Amy Prosser) is at her office. (While Bob has lost his dream job, we learn that Mimi never achieved hers, even though she seems to be doing okay financially – she has a house and all in beautiful and super-expensive SAN FRANCISCO! She had always wanted to live and work in Rome, but she never made the leap.)

Real-life couple Josiah Polhemus and Amy Prosser play former superhero Captain Truth and his girlfriend Mimi in the film Superpowerless.

Real-life couple Josiah Polhemus and Amy Prosser play former superhero Captain Truth and his girlfriend Mimi in the film Superpowerless.

One of the things that struck me about Mimi is. . .to put it bluntly, she is a bit wrinkly. She was Bob’s childhood sweetheart and therefore, they are more or less the same age. This should not be remarkable in any way, yet it is, because men in Hollywood films are so often paired with women young enough to be their daughters.

When Bob learns that Liberty Boy has published a book he considers doing the same and starts dictating his thoughts. His description of how he discovered that he could fly, and how much he misses doing it, is fascinating and touching. You might wish that you could fly, too.

H.P. Mendoza plays Liberty Boy, former sidekick to superhero Captain Truth, in the film Superpowerless.

H.P. Mendoza plays Liberty Boy, former sidekick to superhero Captain Truth, in the film Superpowerless.

Speaking of women young enough to be a daughter – Bob gets in touch with a young and toothy potential editor who spells her name Danniell (Natalie Lander). He foolishly tells Mimi that this editor is a guy, named Daniel. Of course, we can guess that this will lead to problems later. It’s a situation older than TV sitcoms like I Love Lucy.

Because Bob does a lot of walking we are treated to views of many parts of San Francisco. Never mind superheroes, even ordinary citizens must be very fit to handle all those hills! There’s an interlude with a guy who makes bird houses and a car trip to Bob’s childhood neighbourhood in Palo Alto. When he’s walking, Bob often hides his face under a hoodie – this made me think of characters in the video game Assassins Creed. (Coincidentally, Assassins Creed is made by Ubisoft, which was a Fantasia sponsor for many years. We used to see ads with faces hidden under hoods before almost every film.)

After reading the synopsis for Superpowerless, I mistakenly expected a comedy, satire, or even a farce. In the end, I was happy enough with a film that’s relatively serious, with occasional comic moments.

Something I noticed while reading the credits: Actor Josiah Polhemus did the paintings that hang in Bob and Mimi’s home. He’s a multi-talented guy!

Superpowerless (2016)
80 minutes
Director: Duane Andersen
Writers: Duane Andersen, Dominic Mah
Stars: Josiah Polhemus, Amy Prosser, Natalie Lander, Guinevere Turner, Pepe Serna, H.P. Mendoza, Warren Serkin

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