If there is one film you see this year, make it Catfish. Admittedly, I was unsure at first but then I am stupidly fussy with films and often (and I hate myself for it) judge them all by their posters/names. I’d heard of Catfish from film buff, cinema season ticket wielding friends, who endlessly professed its brilliance – which was almost enough to put me off in itself. And when I heard what it was about, I was sceptical that such a story could make a very interesting film…and really I thought it sounded a bit… boring.
Catfish has all the makings of a pretentious independent: it’s a low budget, controversial, grainy documentary that has been clever enough to throw up questions surrounding its authenticity, leading to various debates and chat from film critics and the public alike. But in fact, it is completely bereft of pretension, and is actually a shockingly candid film with relatable ‘characters’ and a troublesome topic we are all too familiar with.
The film begins with Nev, a dance photographer, filmed by his brother and friend, innocently embarking upon a facebook correspondence with a little girl, after having received her paintings of his photographs. Phone chats and more facebook messages with the rest of her family ensue, and lead to a semi-romantic cyber relationship with the girl’s older sister. What gradually transpires is what makes Catfish one of the most absorbing films I have ever seen.
And I can’t say anymore.
…Which I think is the problem when trying to sell it – as Tom Charity of LoveFilm puts it: ‘The more you know about Catfish, the less impact the movie will have.’ Don’t try and seek out a synopsis or hope for an in depth answer when you ask what it is about, because knowing anything more than just what happens in the first 30 minutes will probably ruin it. Juuuuuust trust those that have seen it already and watch it yourself. And when you do, turn your phone off, because the sound of a text message could completely destroy the fantastic suspense of some of the scenes.
Here’s the trailer anyway, which is eventually what persuaded me to watch it: