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Review: Catfish

Aug. 11, 2010by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Filmmakers Henry Joost, and Ariel Schulman document an internet romance between Ariel`s brother Nev, and a young woman he meets online.

REVIEW: CATFISH is a film I`ve been dreading writing a review for. It`s hard enough writing up a documentary, much less one that you that you're expected not to reveal the plot of, so I`m afraid this is going to be a very vague review. Truly, the only way to enjoy CATFISH is if you walk in with a clean slate, and I'm not going to be the one internet critic that spoils the film (although if you look hard enough, I'm sure you'll be able to find some spoiler heavy reviews elsewhere).

Suffice to say, this is not a documentary about CATFISH. Rather, it`s a cautionary tale about how social networking sites like Facebook are changing the way people relate to each other, and how that`s not always a good thing. People are free to misrepresent themselves however they see fit on these sites, and that can be dangerous, even if the relationship happens to be between two consenting adults, as it is here. Often, we'll allow ourselves to become truly vulnerable with a person we've never actually met in the flesh, and when the person doesn't live up to our expectations, it can be truly heartbreaking. Poor Nev Schulman really goes through the wringer here, and the fact that he allowed it to be documented is one of the most heroic acts of cinematic bravery I've ever seen.

As far as film-making technique goes, CATFISH is a beautifully made film. It has a stronger visual sense than most documentaries I've seen lately (other than THE COVE), with some carefully constructed shots that aren't limited by the fact that this was clearly shot with consumer grade DV Cams. . It also has a very effective soundtrack, featuring some wonderful, choral re-arrangements of a few BEACH BOYS tunes. The film is particularly well paced, and considering the emotional journey we take, it`s incredible that the filmmakers were able to fit everything into a ninety minute running time.

There really is a reason CATFISH struck a cord with so many people at Sundance (myself included), and I fully expect it to take the world by storm once it finally hits theatres. I really don`t want to elaborate any further on the film, as if I reveal anything else about the plot, I`ll be spoiling it. The final forty minutes of the film will truly take you on an emotional roller-coaster ride that you won't be able to shake for days afterwards. Perhaps when the film comes out I`ll write a real review, as this is really nothing but a tease. Just trust me folks, if you get the chance- SEE IT!!! You won`t regret it, as this really is a film for our time. It`s an excellent piece of work, and one of the most affecting films, documentary or otherwise, I've seen in a long time.

RATING: 9/10

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