|A better facebook movie than the facebook movie?|
What is "Catfish?" That's what we've been hearing since the film's splash at Sundance, as eager festival attendees scurried from screening to screening all the while abiding by the film's cult promise: "Don't talk about the ending."
Not since "The Sixth Sense" has more secrecy surrounded the supposed twist ending of a film and lent to its infamy.
While I do solemnly swear not to spoil the ending in this review, I will say that "Catfish" is not a horror movie.
In "Catfish," Nev Schulman is followed by his documentarian brother, Ariel, and their friend, Henry, as they make a documentary about his budding Facebook relationship with a family from Michigan.
Nev starts sending photographs to the family's youngest daughter, Abby, who sends identical portraits back to Nev.
He continues the correspondence through telephone conversations with the mother of the family, Angela, and a burgeoning romance with the eldest daughter, Megan.
While the climactic moment in "Catfish" may garner much of the film's praise, these early scenes show a gradual narrative that facilitates our sympathy with Nev and the clan from Michigan.
In the same year as "The Social Network," it is surprising that another film can so effectively capture the prevalence of Facebook in our daily lives, and how the service contributes to human interaction today.
While the cinematography of "Catfish" could understandably be called an aesthetic nightmare, the constantly claustrophobic, extreme close ups of the film match the tremendously personal subject matter.
We experience Nev's relationship with the family first hand through direct footage of online chat windows and late night phone calls.
The filmmakers will often fill the camera's field of view with a shot of Google Earth. A particular scene shows a high-speed road trip from Google Map's Street View—effectively taking the viewer the entire distance of the journey at a blinding pace.
"Catfish" is one of those rare films that manage to live up to its
somewhat overwhelming marketing campaign by delivering a satisfying
study of character.
This review was originally published in the Indiana Statesman.
This peculiar documentary about a NYC photographer who falls in love with a woman from rural Michigan over Facebook has been lauded as the hit of this year's Sundance film festival.
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