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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Catfish Will Keep You Guessing

Catfish: 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars
Nev: The 'Facebook family,' that's what we'll call them.
I am going to say write now that this will be spoiler free, only detailing the basic facts that one can learn from the trailer, which also does nothing to spoil the story.  The film is very interesting and engaging.  It's a well made documentary that is essentially a very sad love story.  Don't be fooled into thinking that this is another 'found footage' horror movie, because it isn't.  It's hard to say this isn't a thriller though, as unconventional of a thriller that it may be, the way this film is made certainly lends itself somewhat into that category, before evolving into something else entirely.

Seriously, these are not spoilers:

Nev is a photographer in New York City who is randomly contacted through Facebook by an 8-year-old girl named Abby.  She lives in rural Michigan and says she wants to paint his photos.  Abby starts sending him paintings that are so beyond a typical 8-year-old's artistic abilities that she is made out to be a child prodigy.  Nev is told that Abby is a local celebrity and her paintings have been exhibited in local galleries.  Nev befriends Abby, Abby's older sister Megan, and their mother Angela on Facebook and over the phone.  He is also introduced to Abby's other family members and their friends on Facebook.  Nev and Megan essentially fall in love and have a long-distance relationship, even though Nev has never met Megan and her family in person.  As Nev's brother Rel and his friend Henry have worked on documenting this whole experience as it is laid out, they take another step forward.

Nev: So what's the next move?
Rel: I think we drive up to Megan's farm in Michigan.
While the opening of the film has been more devoted to being fairly light-hearted, everything takes a turn once the boys head out to Michigan to learn the truth.

What I admired most about this film is how well assembled it is.  Whether it be real, fake, or based on true events (I'm really not sure, despite my thoughts, but wanted to write this first before finding out for myself), the way everything is handled certainly lends itself to being a properly told mystery, which goes through the lengths of answering all questions by its end.  Again, I don't want to push the notion that this film is a thriller, but you certainly start to become very curious and anxious as Nev finds his way closer to what's in store for him in Michigan.

Helping this film are its uses of digital age technology.  The whole film is stitched together via uses of Google Earth, Google Maps, GPS, and of course Facebook.  This is essentially a nice primer for David Fincher's upcoming The Social Network, as that film is about its founding, while this provides perspective on where society is based on the use of it.  Also, having some music by Mark Mothersbaugh, of Devo, in the background of scenes is always a nice addition.

I'm doing the best I can at saying as little as possible, while explaining why I enjoyed this film.  It was engaging and actually kind of emotional, but I hope the mystery aspect doesn't get too oversold to effect what the actual revelations in this film are.
"It's the people who are catfish in life that keep you active, keep you guessing."

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