Directors - Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, 2010

Warning – This Review Contains Spoilers, Or Rather, It Works Better If You Don’t Know Why It’s Good.

Here’s a Thought – Go Away And Watch The Film Now, THEN Come Back And Read This Review. Cool.

What is a Catfish? Personally I have no idea but I’d imagine that only fishermen and maybe chefs are the real experts in this field. There are no fishermen, or for that matter catfish in this story, at all. And for a large portion of the film I was on pure tenterhooks (as in fishing?) waiting for the revelation of how the title relates, seeing as I had no preconceptions beforehand other than a “quite amazing, but amazing as in astonishing” recommendation from a friend.

In an indie flick focusing on Facebook exploitation, here we have an aptly timed exploration of ‘weirdos on the internet’ and the ease with which mediums such as social networking  sites are employed to mislead others. Dramatic irony and “revelation suppression” are the films purest plot devices and they work on a distinct number of levels, since for me watching all the events unravel on screen was like an omni-directional emotive blend of truly invigorating and remarkably, almost unbelievable, storytelling with a much needed dollop of squeamishness. It’s no wonder the Schulman brothers and Henry Joost have been interrogated as to the integrity of the storyline. The sheer timing of the dialogue delivery and the actual proceedings can only be explained as a cinematic blessing, and why would anyone bother documenting what starts out as such a crass topic anyway? Either way, the three of them are prepared to swear an oath in the court of law in a bid to salvage the movie’s reputation , and the odd choice of subject matter must boil down to sheer artistic risk, luck and judgement.

It was both funny, and intensely nerve-racking, oh so maybe that was nervous laughter I heard falling from my mouth? No but really, the three guys documenting the whole process are likeable hip New Yorkers and the audience are made to feel heavily involved in their crazy adventure, and as a result share their shock. It’s often hard to define what a documentary should make you feel, although a standard structuring of introduction, concept, bizarre twist and enlightenment/conclusion usually works pretty well in terms of informing and emotion, and the film-makers conform with a truly unusual success.

-James Godwin, January 13th, 2010

Copyright © 2011. James Godwin. All rights reserved.