Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Review: Catfish

Social networking is at the forefront of modern life. Such sites account for well, everything from communication to advertising. Naturally the popularity of Facebook prompts film makers to create stories revolving around said tool, in an attempt to encapsulate its generational defining impact. The success of 2010's Oscar tipped, The Social Network, proves it can be successful if done correctly. David Fincher's masterpiece eclipsed anything else of its kind and now in 2011, sensing the genre is exhausted, pitching an idea about Facebook seems kind of lame, as the youth of today would phrase it.

However, late last year I stumbled upon the bizarrely titled Catfish. A docu-film following Nev, a photographer from New York, who begins an Internet relationship with members of a family living on the other side of America.

Sounds innocent enough (although just why a 24-year-old man befriends an 8-year-old Abby, adult sister Megan and Mother Angela online, does raise certain questions). Feeling skeptical? Cynical? Probably, given the fragility of modern society, especially where children and Internet are mentioned in the same sentence. A 9 month relationship forms with our naive protagonist and his new found friends, as they exchange phone calls, texts, gifts (including paintings, the significance to be revealed), as well as the classic Facebook wall messages. Things heat up when Nev begins to develop (mutual) romantic feelings for Megan, prompting him to suggest that they take things to the next level by actually meeting in person.

To cut a long story short (and the fact that any further detail would give away the plot and the film's shocking reveal), Nev becomes suspicious about how genuine the family really are after making unexpected discoveries regarding the family's, ahem, musical talents. All along Nev's brother, Rel, and friend, Henry, decide to document the relationship as, being independent film makers, they sense something intriguing about to unfold.

The film offers an honest and shocking conclusion when Nev decides to confront the family face-to-face and finally meet up with his new love, Megan. What happens then is a chilling social commentary, strongly focused on the nature of how social networking sites can be used. This is a film with heart and ultimately compassion, as Nev's reaction to certain revelations prove.

Suffice to say, the documentary/film is a fascinating one, interspersed with humour, a likeable focal character, as well as tension- especially in the build up to the film makers travelling to meet said family.

A refreshing alternative to current mainstream fodder, Catfish is a well crafted and sharply edited film, that transcends the genuine emotional highs and crushing lows of Nev's experience, which certainly makes for a compelling watch.

Sources : Internet Movie DataBase , YouTube