FILM REVIEW | CATFISH
By Annie Slevison
Every now and then a film is made that showcases a candid view into real issues that affect a generation. I believe Catfish (2010), directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, is one of those films. The tech savvy generation needs a tech savvy film and Catfish couldn’t be more relevant at this very moment, as we spend an endless amount of time behind the screen of a computer, checking Facebook, following someone on twitter or liking a photo on Instagram.
The basis of the film, which paved the way for the successful MTV show of the same name, centres on photographer and now documentary maker Nev Schulman and his journey in befriending a talented 8 year old painter, Abby Pierce, on Facebook. The unusual friendship sparks when Abby sends Nev an impressive painting of one of his photos, leading not only to a keen interest in Abby’s talent but also in her family and in particular her attractive older sister Megan.
As conversation expands between Nev and Megan via Facebook messages and texts, so does their desire to be together and meet in person. But we all know that true love faces many obstacles, and this one has a few, such as the discovery that Megan’s claimed singing abilities are false, after Nev discovers that the song covers she sent to him were performed by another artist and ripped off YouTube. Suspicious and sick of the game, Nev wants to retire the romance but after encouragement from his brother Ariel and friend Henry to pursue the relationship for the documentary’s sake, the three continue on their quest in uncovering who is contacting Nev and why. The answer is tragic and unexpected.
The twists and turns of the friendship, and Nev’s growing relationship with Megan make for an interesting and cautious tale of online trust and safety. With everything not as it seems behind the keys of a message board, Catfish encapsulates through first hand experience the growing epidemic of online fraud and deception, as fake accounts, with fake names, pictures and information trap unsuspecting victims into believing they are friends with or even in love with someone who does simply not exist. Despite the claims of fakery on part of the directors and the questioned dramatisation of the situation, Catfish is a learning curve told with purpose and a dose of harsh reality. It is a must see for our ever evolving technological generation.
Catfish is available to watch for free on SBS demand.