Friday, October 8, 2010

Gone Fishing

Online dating is nothing new. Pretty much since the invention of the Internet males and females of all ages have attempted to use the tools available on the inter-web to meet, greet, and facilitate communication with people of the opposite sex. There are thousands of sites out there with the expressed purpose of getting to to see someone, even specialized sites for any subgroup you might want to focus on, such as Jewish, environmentally friendly, or even video gamers. Millions of people are currently signed up for one of these sites, but often you don't have to be to meet someone online.

Catfish looks at the modern day relationship by examining NYC photographer Nev Schulman, who has recently made the acquaintance of an 8-year old art prodigy from Michigan, Abby Pierce, who saw one of his paintings in a newspaper and sends him a painting of it. Nev is so impressed that he begins personal relations with the Pierce family, who continue to send him paintings of his photos as he talks to mother Angela on the phone, and becomes Facebook friends with the entire family, including Abby's father, brother, and finally her sister Megan. All this is captured on film by Nev's filmmaker brother Ariel Schulman and friend Henry Joost, who try to get every moment even when Nev is in no mood for their company. They're simply looking to make a documentary about the friendship between Nev and Abby, but end up with something completely different.

The resemblance was much more uncanny in a dark theater
It's obvious from the word go that Nev is very attracted to sister Megan. Megan works as a veterinarian, but is also artistically talented, as we as the viewing audience are treated to songs she's apparently sung, art she's apparently painted, and she is also a big fan of dance and ballet, which is often the subject of Nev's work. Very quickly (and under the watchful eye of Ariel and Henry), Nev is constantly in conversation with Megan, whether on the phone, on Facebook or via text message, but never in person. That is, until one of the crew finally speaks up and says they should visit Megan in Michigan as a surprise.

The perfect online girlfriend, Megan Faccio
You very quickly become accustomed to the film's playful tone as you watch this modern-day romance play out in front of you. Ariel and Henry are constantly playing around, and not always to the purpose of cheering up Nev from one of his moods. Nev seemingly doesn't like the fact that his life is supposedly under 24-hour surveillance, but the others prevail and we get pretty much a whole story told in 94 minutes, with a fun musical playlist accompanying the action on screen when applicable. It's obviously an upbeat film, not one to easily dismiss and draw your attention away, as my inability to draw my attention from the screen for about 90% of the film's screen time would attest. And it ends on such a sweet note you're not sure what you're feeling for hours after you leave the theater.

Road trip! Wooo!
There has been tons of speculation as to whether this film is really a documentary or in fact a fictional story done in a documentary fashion. I'm not sure where the idea for this came from, as while it's not like you're normal documentary like Supersize Me or An Inconvenient Truth where you're bombarded with facts left and right, there certainly seems to be nothing SO out of the realm of possibility as to be obviously in error. It's a very confined story, by no means anything more than a romantic story between Nev and the woman in Michigan, and not meant to be an allegory to online dating or Facebook in general. In truth, do I believe what happened in this film to be factual? To be honest, it was so unbelievable an experience, I think it MUST be true.

Spending a little too much time online
The film does have some slow parts towards the end, mostly in wrapping up the story and summarizing. These are merely nitpicks, however, as even as a factual event this is one of the best stories I've seen this year and don't doubt it speaks more to the Internet's influence on everyday life and society than David Fichner's biopic of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg could hope to (not that I know for certain, and I still plan to see it). In the end, Catfish is a sweet, fun, unique and unusual love story that you'd better not let anyone spoil for you so you can enjoy it to the full extent you should. I've got it at #4 for the year, I enjoyed it that much.

Awww, look at the happily Photoshopped, naked couple
One last word, thanks and shoutout to my buddy Dan J. for getting me to see this film (even if he only wanted someone to talk to about it) and providing the movie gift card that paid for it.


Calandreya said...

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that it's true. If it isn't, it's based on true happenings all over the country.

jimmygerms said...


jimmygerms said...