Catfish

Director: Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman

Notable Cast: Nev Schulman, Ariel Schulman

Rating: PG-13

Review: In this day and age where Facebook, Twitter, and other means of online social interaction dominate the public, it only makes sense that two movies built around them are both coming out around the same time. One, The Social Network, is literally about the founding of Facebook. The other, Catfish, merely uses it as a plot device. But unlike TSN, Catfish is not a normal film, it is supposedly a documentary or a “reality thriller” as they are billing it. However I find that term to be a little misleading when describing. How much of this film is actually reality and how much of this documentary is a thriller?

Catfish centers around filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost filming the life of Ariel’s brother Nev. Nev is a photographer who recently had one of his photographs published in the New York Times. He receives a drawing of that same photograph by an 8-year old girl named Abby. Nev soon begins a friendship with the small girl and her family. The family consists of her mom Angela, dad, brother, and attractive older sister Megan. Megan and Nev soon begin to have an intimate friendship and become more and more involved with each others’ lives. However, Nev and company soon begin to think something is up due to various instances and set out to figure out what is really going on. In doing so, they will discover the shocking truth of Abby and her family.

This seems normal, perfectly normal

Catfish is a weird film to grade because it does certain things really right, while completely fucking other things up. In the right department, it does a good job of capturing what an online relationship like this would be like. It goes through every stage of it and genuinely builds up Nev’s relation to the family, so it really does seem like he knows these people even though he has never personally met them. It’s really good at filming life I guess you can say. Whether that makes good film or not (it doesn’t) is up to the viewer though. So if it is really reality (which I still don’t buy) it certainly got that part of it down. The twist itself, well, it’s not exactly up to the hype they make it out to be. It is certainly unexpected though, which is cool. The movie actually reaches its peak after the twist, as the Schulman’s reaction to it is really interesting to watch. It deviates from how you would expect it to be and doesn’t vilify anyone or anything involved with the film.

The current trend in Hollywood seems to be this “faux-documentary” style that has been used in some recent films in any genre. You have horror movies like Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism and more straightforward documentary like ones such as I’m Still Here. Both this and that movie were billed as straight forward, real documentaries. But, much like that one, I’m really wondering about the validity of this movie. I don’t understand why they would even begin to film this in the first place if it is a real documentary. It is not particularly interesting up until the twist ending and even then, that is not that neat. Up until the reveal and the subsequent scenes, the movie is just not interesting. There is no fun in watching Nev interact with this family and even the supposedly “thriller” parts are really lame. It feels like it spends all of its time just building up to the climax of the film, rather than actually you know, make the film interesting to watch. I felt gypped that I sat through most of the film just to get to one specific part. It is not a thriller, do not listen to the ad.

I feel Catfish is going to be an extremely polarizing film. Some people will find the subject and the day-to-day life of Nev to be really interesting and some, like me, will find it tedious. And yet, even though I didn’t particularly like it, I still recommend you go out and see it when it plays near a theater near you. I would feel bad telling you not to see it because I genuinely feel it is a movie you have to see yourself in order to pass judgment upon. It didn’t work for me, but hey, maybe it will work for you.

Final Grade: C

Why are you filming this, dude? It’s just a phone call.

-Eric

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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