Friday, January 28, 2011

Under 250: Catfish


I tend to steer clear of films about social networking because I’m cranky and jaded and when it comes to Facebook, I’m especially crotchety and go into full avoidance mode. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished the is it or isn’t it documentary Catfish by filmmakers and brothers Yaniv and Ariel Schulman. The documentary begins when younger brother Yaniv (a photographer) begins receiving unsolicited paintings of his photographs from a nine year old painting prodigy in Michigan. He soon develops a relationship with her and her family (particularly her older sister) via Facebook and texting before realizing that they may not be all they seem. Most assume the documentary is a fake, even though the filmmakers still contend that it’s real. While some of the slickness makes me question its authenticity, the emotion is sincere enough to make that question unimportant. But even though I got caught up in that emotion while I watched, Catfish doesn’t have the sort of depth I wanted, introducing big concepts like identity, technology and the development of relationships, and the connection that art can create between two people, without ever really bothering to examine them in much detail. But that criticism itself seems to reflect the authenticity of the film, as it seems more an effect of the immaturity of the young filmmakers on screen than a real failure of their abilities to properly convey the “truth” of a story.

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