October 10, 2010

Movie Review: Catfish

catfish1_largeThis is a movie I knew next to nothing about before entering the theater. I knew it involved Facebook communication and a mystery but nothing else. It has a poster that says don't let anyone tell you what it is and a trailer that says it is the "best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made.". Needless to say these elements all added up my excitement to finally see it. I did not know if it was a documentary or a mockumentary or some manner of horror or thriller. I had sort of been hoping it was a horror film, but that is not the case. What I did see was an interesting film that plays better in the theater than it does in the aftermath of knowing the truth.

To be sure Catfish is a difficult film to discuss without getting into spoiler territory. Whether you like the movie or not, to give away spoilery details is not going to help anyone with interest. Far be it for me to turn you away by giving you the details that give away the mystery that is uncovered in the latter half of the movie. Although I will say that the quote about Hitchcock is not accurate and terribly misleading.

The movie centers on Nev Schulman, a twenty-something photographer in NYC, and filmmakers/officemates Rel Schulman (Nev's brother) and Henry Joost. Rel and Joost have decided to chronicle Nev's friendship/relationship with who they have dubbed the Facebook family.

It begins with the arrival of a painting of one of Nev's photos. The piece was done by an eight year old girl named Abby. The two get in touch with each other by way of her mother Angela. They chat and exchange photos and paintings and Nev also connects with Abby's older sister, Megan, and the two embark on a sort of a long distance relationship.


The mystery comes in when there seems to be some inconsistencies in some of the messages they have been getting. This kids them to pay the family a visit when they happen to be in the area due to one of the shooting gigs. It is also here that I will stop any further description of the plot, let's just say they do not know what they are going to find when they arrive at their destination.

The truth of the story has been debated, I tend to doubt its authenticity. Granted, when I left the theater I was not sure what to think, I began to believe if was real. Now is different story, too many things feel a bit off in the execution and the presentation. Regardless of the authenticity, if you just look at the story it is pretty interesting.

Catfish takes a look at the effect that Facebook and social media are having on society. The way we experience the world and share information is rapidly changing and we are afforded outlets that prior generations could not have fathomed. This technology is also allowing the way we express ourselves and present ourselves to change for better or worse. This movie is an interesting look at the manner in which these expressions are manifesting themselves.


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