Catfish (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/12/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 87 mins

Impressively directed and superbly edited, this is an utterly riveting documentary that is by turns suspenseful, hilarious, disturbing and moving.

What's it all about?
Directed by New York documentary film-makers Ariel 'Rel' Schulman and Henry Joost, Catfish is told chronologically and begins when Rel and Henry decide to document the unusual internet-based relationship that is developing between Rel's 24-year-old brother Yaniv (or 'Nev', pronounced 'Neev') and an 8-year-old girl from Michigan called Abby who has been sending him paintings of his photographs. Nev contacts Abby's mother Angela to make sure she's okay with the friendship and soon he finds himself befriended on Facebook by a large number of Abby's friends and family, including her attractive older half-sister Megan.

As Nev and Megan interact on Facebook, email and messenger, they develop feelings for each other and are soon talking regularly on the phone. However, Megan is always evasive when Nev suggests that they meet up, so the three friends embark on a road trip to surprise the family.

The Good
To say any more about the plot would be unfair, although it's really what happens next that forms the heart of the film – suffice to say, for maximum enjoyment you should go in knowing as little as possible, so avoid the trailer and try not to read too many reviews.

The title, incidentally, comes from a metaphor in a speech towards the end of the film, where one of the subjects talks about needing people around who can shake things up a bit. Nev makes an engaging, likeable and often very funny central subject – the scene where he embarrassedly reads his sex texts with Megan aloud for the camera is both excruciating and hilarious. The film is also expertly edited throughout (the use of Facebook photos for captions is particularly inspired) and unfolds like a mystery thriller – for example, there's a sequence set outside an isolated farmhouse that's more nail-bitingly tense than any recent horror film.

The Great
The strength of Catfish is that it consistently defies expectations and is by turns funny, suspenseful, chilling, shocking, disturbing and then, unexpectedly, both heart-breaking and extremely moving. It's safe to say that whatever you're expecting from Catfish, you won't be prepared for the way it ends.

Worth seeing?
Hugely entertaining and consistently surprising, this is a well-made, frequently funny and genuinely moving documentary that also takes a timely and thought-provoking look at the nature of communication and relationships in the era of social networking. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Catfish (12A)
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Content updated: 22/10/2017 01:40

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