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CATFISH (2010)

>> Monday, October 18, 2010

Plenty of fish in the sea? Maybe. Plenty of catfish? Thankfully, no.

I first heard about Catfish about two months ago. At that point I had no idea what it was, nor did I look into it. After all, I had never heard of it before and based on the title and the poster image alone, I assumed it was some kind of horror movie. In some ways, it turned out I was right.

For those of you that haven't seen the trailer or even heard of the documentary (which shouldn't be too many people by now), Catfish follows the life of photographer Nev Schulman as he embarks on an online journey that involves three members of the same family. There is Abby, an 8-year old painting prodigy, Megan, Abby's older half-sister, and Angela, Abby and Megan's mother. Nev starts out by discovering the painting abilities of Megan and through long distance correspondence he begins to form a relationship with all three. Eventually Nev starts to form feelings for Megan, and that's where the movie starts.

Nev's roommates (which include his brother Ariel Schulman) are filmmakers. Being a filmmaker I constantly think the same thing these guys did - "Hey, maybe we should start taping this stuff - it may make a good movie one day". Indeed. However, after eight months of getting to know Megan through Facebook and phone calls, some strange things and irregularities start to surface that lead Catfish to a place that is in some ways, very dark. That's as far as I'll go when it comes to summarizing the story due to spoliers.

Take my advice, if you plan on seeing Catfish, stay away from spoilers that may pop up when it comes to the ending. I unfortunately knew what happened prior to seeing the film and I feel that may have changed how I saw it for the first time. However, like most good movies with a twist ending, it becomes equally as interesting to watch or rewatch the movie knowing what happens. It allows you to see and appreciate certain intricacies .

As Catfish became more popular, questions popped up as to what aspects of the film were true. Frankly, I didn't think it mattered. Sure, as with most documentaries (specifically Michael Moore vehicles) you wonder if what you're seeing was put in for truth and fact, or shock and entertainment. In this case I'd say what you're getting is about 90% truth. In the end though, I don't think it matters. What the movie focuses on more and more (and maybe not enough) is the complex nature of the human mind and the abilities it has to keep people on their toes. Catfish isn't as much a thriller as it is a human interest story.

What's interesting is watching a movie like this the same month as The Social Network. Both are relatively Facebook oriented, both make comments about the way most people are living their lives and how big an impact online dating and social networking have become on our society. Most people I know live their lives by Facebook and more often than not either end up loving it and getting addicted, or hating it because of the pressures it can have, mistakes made and lives that have been ruined by it. Catfish is another shining example of almost all of these. Something that should be referred to as 'the Facebook circle of life'.

I am giving Catfish an open door. As aforementioned, it's a great human interest story as has decent social commentary. I found at times it dragged slightly and feel maybe the documentary-making experience (or lack thereof) of Nev and crew lacked enough skill to really dig into the story they stumbled upon. After you watch this film, I recommend tracking down the 20/20 episode that aired on Friday October 8th. It goes into the film's story with a bit more detail and gets answers to some of the questions you may be left asking when the credits roll.

*Stills courtesy of Relativity Media and Rogue


Editing Luke October 22, 2010 at 12:07 AM  

Where did you see this movie? I never heard of it before the 20/20 interview.

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