On paper, this is an ideal project for the German auteur Werner Herzog to launch his comeback to narrative feature filmmaking. In reality, there’s little here to make viewers celebrate the end of his decade-long creative hiatus.
Invincible is the true-life story of Zishe Breitbart (Jouko Ahola), a Jew who was plucked from the obscurity of his Polish village to appear as a strongman in the Berlin cabaret of the showman-hypnotist Erik-Jan Hanussen (Tim Roth). The naive Zishe becomes convinced – through a series of dreams – that he must lead his people, while Hanussen’s mystical prophecies win him the admiration of the Nazi leadership.
Those expecting a haunting, Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser-style examination of an innocent outsider beset by visions will be disappointed. The overlong Invincible is awkwardly constructed, prosaically scripted and unevenly performed, with Roth’s mannered acting jarring with the subdued performances of the non-professional leads. The visual imagination of Herzog’s best work is also lacking, the director even recycling images from one of his earlier documentaries. Hugely disappointing.