Saturday, March 26, 2011

Catfish (2010)

Movie quotes:
"They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They'd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank god for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin."
- Vince Pierce

At a glance:
This documentary explores the hidden secrets behind a Facebook friendship between a New York photographer and an eight year old girl from Michigan

Our review (with spoilers):
Nev, a New York photographer, has a dance photo published in a major magazine. Soon after, he receives a wonderful painting of his photo in the mail. The painting was done by Abby, an eight year old girl from Michigan. Soon Nev is corresponding virtually (through email, Facebook, and Twitter) with Abby, her mom Angela, and her sexy half-sister, Megan. Nev and Megan are mutually attracted and begin an on-line relationship, with both of them looking forward to the day when they can meet. Megan, also a talented artist, uploads a couple of songs written especially for Nev. But an internet search reveals that the songs were written  and sung by somebody else. Soon Nev discovers that all the talk of Abby’s various successful gallery showings were also fabricated. Nev is stunned and angry, but since he is now in the middle of a documentary about the whole situation, he agrees to go to Michigan to find out exactly what is real and what is not.

Soon Nev finds out what astute viewers might suspect: there is only one person behind this ruse that exists: Angela. She did the artwork; she changed her voice to be Megan, and she did the paintings. Nev and crew spend a day with her, and then Nev gently confronts her and gets most of the true story. Angela, her dreams shattered and her life burdened by the care of her new husband’s two extremely retarded twin boys, escaped into multiple personalities and used fragments of herself in her youth to woo Nev.

For his part, Nev is grateful to find out, and somehow these two people form an unlikely (Facebook) friendship. But the pain in their eyes is unmistakable.

This is a wonderful documentary, created on a very low budget. Based on social media, it makes clever use of Google Earth and Google Maps to augment the story. There is a small niggling factor that this may not be completely what it seems – why did they start filming so early in the story? – but the film-makers swear that it is 100% true.

Rating: 3.5 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"The great thing about Catfish is the compassion it shows towards everyone involved. It tries to reach an understanding of the truth but without mocking or judging."
- Allan Hunter (Daily Express)

1 comment:

  1. Solid review, interesting film. Have you seen the trailer for it? It seemed to have thrown a lot of people off and made them think this a mystery film of sorts. As for me, I did not see the trailer beforehand and found 'Catfish' thoroughly intriguing and thought-provoking.


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