Review: ‘Catfish’

Friday, September 17 by

Catfish bodes really well for upstart documentaries. These guys just stumbled onto a story, but they happened to be shooting it so well they could present a coherent film about it.

It sets up the characters, their relationships, the geography and the routines of Facebook really well. Yaniv Schulman has been mailed paintings an eight-year-old girl Abby made of his photography. Yaniv begins an online and telephone relationship with the family, including her mother Angela, and an older daughter that becomes possibly romantic.

More after the jump..

It gets uncomfortable very fast. I mean, Yaniv is trying to do a good thing to support a girl and her family, and it escalates. He’s lying around all topless looking dreamy and this is some girl in another state.

It becomes a mystery, but still why is he so involved? Just live your own life in New York. I mean, it’s very curious to watch, but not to do. Yaniv even gets it. About a half hour in he feels he’s crossing the line, but that’s when it becomes a fascinating film.

All the things you think about doing but shouldn’t, they do. It’s All the President’s Men of the Facebook age, only there’s no national consequence. Actually, there is a social relevance, and it is on the personal level.

As they uncover the truth about Abby’s family, it becomes tragic. It’s a poignant demonstration of how Facebook can be an outlet for people in dire situations. Nothing can change the reality whether she stops Facebooking or not. The subject still has a lifelong responsibility, so what’s it to her if she manipulates people online. And most people would not be making a film about it so wouldn’t have reason to follow up on the mystery.

Video is holding up better in theaters now. Either they’ve lit this really well or the new cameras can compensate for low light. Their videography is very steady, even when they’re walking or hiding the camera. That proves that shaking cameras are fake Hollywood crap. Real filmmakers, even beginning ones, can keep a handheld camera still. It might jolt a little but even when they’re in motion the movement is slight.

When “Catfish” is finally explained at the end, it’s an apt metaphor for a lot of things. I think they should just tell people what it means because it’s so profound it would connect with people, but marketing knows everything. I feel bad for the catfish, but I guess I need them to be catfish or there’d be no me to feel bad for them. You’ll understand at the end.

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