A decade later the adult Mona (Jessica Alba), repressed and withdrawn, her father no better, is abruptly thrown out by her mother (Sonia Braga) and given a lead for a job teaching elementary school math in the film's picturesque upstate New York town; we're left to surmise that the mother has just discovered tough love.
The moral of the fairy tale is that love dictates that you give part of yourself away, and Mona's journey teaches her that this is not true. Alba gives such a focused, interior portrayal that she just might have managed to carry the movie had it been better.
Director Marilyn Agrelo won acclaim for her upbeat 2005 documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom," about school kids learning more than just dancing in preparing for a citywide contest. But here, in her narrative-feature debut, Agrelo (directing an adaptation of an Aimee Bender novel) clumsily attempts to play jaunty larkiness against somber situations. Ironically, she fails to achieve the necessary bleak whimsy and artistic unity that characterize that animated sequence.
-- Kevin Thomas
"An Invisible Sign." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.