Invisible Lines, an Oscar-qualifying short written, directed and produced by Yuval Shrem, delves into the highly sensitive topic of workplace harassment. With sexual misconduct rightfully still under the social microscope, and with the #metoo movement still gaining momentum, the lines are shifting. . . and to some those lines remain invisible. Gov Dan Palmer, played by Ron Gilbert, finds this out to his detriment when days before reelection, multiple women come forward with claims of harassment. Adamant he has done nothing wrong, the realization these invisible lines are clear to everyone but him becomes bitterly apparent.
A rowboat lurches through dark, cold and foggy water as Gabriel Palmer, played by Eddie Navarro, rows his father, Gov Palmer, across an unknown lake to an unknown destination. As Gabriel continues to row, we learn his father has ruined his chances for reelection, and by the way he’s gripping his briefcase, it’s safe to say it’s life shattering. Taking us back to the campaign trail we see Gov Palmer on stage, addressing his many supporters, spewing out soundbites at an alarming rate. Promising to uphold family values and the character of the state if reelected, he parades his family on stage to hammer home his family man persona. His children Gabriel and Dylan Palmer (Sean Armond), provide additional support and a few soundbites of their own before the crowd chants “four more years”. Clearly leading the race and assured by all around him of victory, Gov Palmer returns home to celebrate with his family.
Oblivious to the furor happening outside, the Palmer’s sit down for dinner as one by one their phones start to ping and the landline rings. As they turn on the TV, they are greeted with story after story of sexual misconduct and inappropriate conduct in the workplace. His life in tatters, Gov Palmer must retrace his actions to determine where he crossed the line – even the invisible ones. Confiding in his reluctant wife Lynn Palmer, played by Addi Kaplan, these lines come into focus as it becomes clear his actions have been interpreted as inappropriate. Are inappropriate. One by one people start to leave him as his career comes crashing down around him and his life in public office is over.
Tackling such a large topic as sexual misconduct is a daunting task to even the most experienced filmmaker; however, Invisible Lines trips itself up in places. While the performances of Navarro and Gilbert stand out, the general performances from the cast felt a bit forced. The flow of dialog is hindered and compounded by stiff performances, abrupt cuts with some obscure camera angle choices. While it is clear the filmmaker is trying to highlight the blurred boundary that still exists when it comes to appropriate contact and its interpretation, it sits on the fence not helping these lines come into focus.