CatfishFeature Film |
A sad and compelling glimpse into the darker side of Facebook.
Though the trailers bill this documentary as a thriller, in reality Catfish is a heartbreaking story of one person's attempt to reinvent a life online. Unwittingly, or so it seems, the filmmakers end up tracing the inevitable repercussions of such an endeavor. Nev Schulman is a New York City-based photographer sharing a studio with his brother, Ariel, and their friend Henry Joost, both filmmakers. Nev is contacted by Abby, an eight-year-old artistic prodigy from Michigan, who says she wants to paint a copy of one of his photographs. They strike up a correspondence via Facebook, which leads him to her family, including her mother, Angela, and her half-sister, Megan, with whom Nev hits it off. They speak often, and the relationship evolves to a point where a romance is a real possibility. And then it gets weird. Catfish is poignant, certainly, but also arguably exploitative. The film is at once compelling and creepy, and often one is unsure who is the more sympathetic character. There are aspects of Catfish, as a documentary, that seem almost too good to be true—convenient impromptu shots and surprisingly adequate lighting for such a candidly shot project—though the filmmakers maintain the story's authenticity. The final product is disconcerting, often amusing, and completely engrossing.