Friday, April 01, 2011

Why Catfish is Amazing

***SPOILER ALERT*** This post contains spoilers. DO NOT READ if you want to enter Catfish with a clean slate, a fact I highly recommend if you wanna see a terribly interesting documentary. ***SPOILER ALERT***

After months of waiting and avoiding all possible spoilers ("Don't let anyone tell you what it is" is their apt tag line), I finally caught Ariel (Ari) Schulman and Henry Joost's emotionally jarring 2010 documentary, Catfish. With Facebook's vein of connection guiding New York photographer Yaniv (Nev) Schulman's correspondence with 8-year-old Abby and her family, Ariel and Henry begin documenting Nev's relationship with the Michigan-based pen pal. Upon first witnessing the trailer last summer, I knew Catfish was going to be different. Didn't know why or how, but something grabbed my attention.

The Boyfriend didn't know anything about it, so I snuggled up in the spare bedroom to watch it alone. I highly recommend watching Catfish alone, as it's one of those movies where people's complaints ("That doesn't make sense!" "I saw that coming!" "That's bs!" Why are they doing that!?) could ruin the experience. You pretty know up front things aren't as they seem with Abby's family, but the reveal (mother Angela posing as her own daughter and 15 or so adjacent family and friends on Facebook) left me feeling heartbroken and sad. Sad for the woman and her lies. Sad that, even at the point of exposing her infatuated feelings to Nev, still lies about, of all things, having cancer. It doesn't come off as malicious. It's just sad.

In all, Catfish is a taught, somber, suspenseful film about connecting, loneliness, and the type of obsession technology brings about. A fresher, tenser, less in-your-face version of The Blair Witch Project. And the title? Oh, the title. You have to wait a good amount of time for its payoff, but yikes, it's quite worth it. Like a good portion of the final 40 minutes, Catfish encompasses a simple, smile-inducing, yet ultimately heavy sentiment. Like Pixar's Up, but with 40-something-year-old pen pals instead of balloons. And not shot in 3-D.

***SPOILER ALERT OVER*** This post contained spoilers. DO NOT READ if you want to enter Catfish with a clean slate, a fact I highly recommend if you wanna see a terribly interesting documentary. ***SPOILER ALERT OVER***

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