Catfish: Untangling What’s True and What’s False
Directed by Henry Joost, Ariel Shulman
Pre-review note: some people have questioned if this is a documentary or a pseudo-documentary. I’m in the camp of: Really Happened But Also Footage Recreated.
It’s quite handy when your good-looking brother provides you with the setup for an interesting documentary; in this case the brother, Nev, received a painting by an eight-year-old of a photo he’d taken. Back before the internet, perhaps a written correspondence might have developed, but in 2010* Nev connected with the girl’s mother on Facebook, and subsequently became online friends with the entire family. The strength of this documentary is not just that it coined a now-common term,** but the humanity in which all parties are portrayed.***
The verdict: Good
Cost: Netflix monthly fee ($8.99)
Where watched: at home
*When watching it’s important to transport yourself back to 2010, when we were just starting to talk about how accurate the online profiles of people are.
**Seemingly accidentally, as it’s an ancillary character telling a story that introduces the term.
***The confrontation scene in this movie could have been handled a number of ways: anger, villification, outrage. Instead it was done with compassion and resulted in an honest story that was the selling point of this film for me.
- What was your favorite scene in this film? (I enjoyed the reading aloud of text messages.)
- Do you think anything good came of this incident?
Favorite IMDB trivia item:
As of August 2011, the film has been hit with two lawsuits and, according to Catfish distributor Relativity Media, the film has an unrecouped balance of more than $8.5 million and will not likely ever become profitable. Both of these lawsuits have to do with songs used within the movie not being attributed to their creators.
(It’s important to do your due diligence with permissions.)
Other reviews of Catfish:
- Claudia Puig, USA Today
- Dana Stevens, Slate
$8.5 million????? Jeez. Just make up your own songs. No one cares.