Movie Review: Catfish

IMDB, CatfishDocumentary, 87 Minutes, 2010: Catfish on IMDB

To begin with there is, apparently, a raging debate regarding this film.  One camp is absolutely positive that this was a completely scripted, produced false documentary in the vein of “Blair Witch” or “Paranormal Activity”.  Another camp is certain that this is an honest, straight documentary.  Still others argue that the truth lies some where in-between.  For my part I won’t take a position beyond that offered by the filmmakers: they say the movie wasn’t staged so that’s how I’ll treat it.

The movie follows the evolution of an online exchange between a NY photographer and a young fan.  Eight year-old Abby painted one of his photos and sent it to him.  The painting was good enough to interest his friends who started video-taping his exchanges and the packages being sent.  The story grows as the relationship expands to other members of Abby’s family.

The movie is almost impossible to summarize or discuss without spoiling.  Everything that you’ll you’ll want to discuss or debate is post-reveal.  While I do sometimes take perverse pleasure in spoiling movies that I don’t like, I actually liked this one.  Spoiling it would, at the risk of sounding trite, make me feel bad. I’m not going to do it.

The movie isn’t perfect.  It takes some time to build up steam and jumps around a little too freely in the first half.  It is damn engaging though.  Even my 14 year-old son was pulled in.  The presentation is subtle but resonates well and the reveal was handled with an unexpected, but appreciated, grace.  It’s a simple, elegant little movie and well worth 90 minutes of your time.

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