Much of “Landscape with Invisible Hand” sets up ideas that are either negligibly developed or carefully avoided. The Marshes’ resentment towards the Campbells provides the greatest source of tension since Mr. Marsh resents Mrs. Campbell for having opportunities he and his son crave. Hunter’s pouting is sometimes amusing, though a later scene where he shaves off his eyebrows to make himself look more appealing to the Vuvv doesn’t go far enough. It’s also disappointing to see not much made of an early scene where Chloe shoos away a broke classmate (Christian Adam) by telling him that he’s scaring away her other customers. His sullen retort—“What other customers?”—is funnier and more to the point than anything else in “Landscape with Invisible Hand.”
The Campbell family, including Adam’s sister Natalie (Brooklynn MacKinzie), also don’t have much of an emotional life beyond their discomfort with the Vuvv. That’s partly by design, though the movie’s brisk pace and bracing close-ups suggest that Finley’s too invested in keeping viewers at arm’s length. There’s even a pseudo-Spielbergian scene involving Adam’s dad that explains why there’s no love left in the Campbell home. That’s a provocative concept, but it’s not developed beyond a point. Instead, Haddish gets a tidy little speech in which she tells off one of the Vuvv, and then the movie shifts focus yet again so that it’s about Adam, the frustrated painter. That plot thread predictably does not end well for Adam, though he still gets to walk away without much dramatic fallout or urgency.
You can see much of what’s wanting in “Landscape with Invisible Hand” in the scenes that revolve around the Vuvv. They’re weird-looking and quirky, but they don’t do or suggest much beyond what we already know. The rich don’t need to like or even care about you, not as long as they can pay you. That’s about as meaningful as “Landscape with Invisible Hand” gets, which is unfortunate given how much time is spent on endlessly restating the skewed terms and conditions of Adam’s perpetually complicated life story. Finley deserves credit for adding extra wrinkles to Anderson’s story, but “Landscape with Invisible Hand” doesn’t cut deep enough to leave a mark.
Now playing in theaters.