The trailer was overhyped and misleading but I think the distributors gotta do what its gotta do to make their film earn. Though it might have attracted and intrigued some viewers, it did not bring justice to the film’s merits.
Catfish is a documentary about a man named Yaniv Schulman (Nev for short) who is basically a good-natured guy and works as a photographer in New York City. One day he receives a painting of one of his famous pictures that he has posted on Facebook from an eight year old girl named Abby Pierce. That was the start of their correspondence online which led to Nev knowing Abby’s mother Angela, her stepfather Vince and her attractive half-sister Megan. He befriended all of them in Facebook. Nev then kept receiving paintings from Abby, talking to her mom occasionally and started to have a long distance relationship with Megan. While all these events are unfolding, Nev’s brother Ariel and a mutual friend Henry was filming the entire time.
As things with Megan got more intimate, Nev noticed that both Abby and Megan were making false claims over the Internet. However Nev still continued the friendship and his peers with the video recording. As both women continued to make more false claims, Nev and his brother and friend then decided to go on a spontaneous road trip all the way to rural Michigan and then discovered the real identity of those people he thought he knew.
One of the issues that this documentary had to deal with is it’s authenticity. A few are calling it a “mockumentary” much to the filmmaker’s protest. In defense of it, it does not look contrived at all. Initially these men were bored probably and had nothing better to do so they picked up a camera and then just luckily got the surprised ending that they have never expected but might have hoped for to make their film interesting.
Overall, the documentary stands out on its own – compelling, above average editing and technically savvy in its own right. And it is really hard to make a review without giving too much away. One of the strengths this film has is the sense of a puzzling mystery which the viewers would want to figure out and as it is concluded some might be left with a cynical “that’s it?!?” and the other half might have an unsettling feeling. When the narrative is sharpening up and the denouement is revealed a feeling of being misled and incompletion will reverberate but eventually it will be replaced with satisfaction and sorriness come the credits.
What this documentary has to offer in reflection is how powerful social networking is in this age and day – in which it does make the world go smaller but identities are getting vaguer and it is become easier to manipulate people in just one click of a mouse or several keyboard keys.
Watch it: during a quick study break or a break from office work. The film is just over less than 90 minutes long.
Do not watch it if: you are anticipating for a traditional slasher film – blood, guts and gore.
7.5 out of 10 stars: Definitely worth your time.