Sometimes it seems like there’s a website for every type of hopeless romantic out there. Women Behind Bars is a site dedicated to helping incarcerated women by connecting them with a plethora of interested men (why someone would be looking to date a convicted felon is beyond me). Trek Passions, as you’ve probably guessed, is a little-gem of a dating website for all of those who dream of role-playing as Capitan James T. Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura (or Spock, if you’re into that). 420 Dating specializes in matching stoners (the site claims not endorse any illegal activity, however, the claim is ultimately irrelevant since most of the site’s profile pictures are of people smoking fat blunts). But a lot of people seem to be disregarding Facebook as a source for either one-night stands or long-term relationships.
But I’m glad that I’m not the only one who sees the popular social networking website’s potential. In fact, with the advent of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s recent film Catfish, an internet savvy documentary that explores topics such as social media and technology and its effect on the human psyche, I can safely say there are plenty of others like me who are desperate enough to follow a person via their virtual profile in a pathetic attempt at getting laid. No wait, I’m just kidding — I have no such problems (obviously).
New York photographer Nev Schulman, who is Ariel’s brother, is the main focus in Catfish, as it follows his internet relationship with a young and attractive woman named Megan. Megan, we learn, established contact with Nev after her younger sister (who is purported to be an acclaimed artiste) sent Nev a painting after she saw one of his published photographs. Of course, Nev has also befriended Megan’s entire family on Facebook and has even spoken to her mother over the telephone; we even watch Megan and Nev’s first telephone conversation — which admittedly, borderlines on cutesy (not saying it’s a bad thing).
However, there’s something fishy (pun intended) about Megan and her family, which is evident from the film’s first scenes, just based on the overall quality of the painting which seems to be done with the hands of a seasoned professional, not a young child. The second half of Catfish follows the three amateur filmmakers as they try to piece together the mystery behind the family, which eventually leads up to the team actually visiting Megan’s barn in Michigan.
This is where the trailer leaves us. But the problem with the trailers is that they criminally overstate the quality of the film. “The best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never directed,” one review claims, however, Catfish just left me disappointed.
First of all, the climax isn’t quite as stunning as the trailer makes it out to seem. Yes, it is quite ingenious, even if it can be described as tasteless exploitation, but it just isn’t “a shattering conclusion.” There is also way too much build-up (which once again ties into the underwhelming conclusion), and this hurts the overall enjoyability of the film. It could also stand to lose some running time — the last thirty minutes or so could be cut almost entirely without making much of a difference.
At least Nev is a charismatic-enough lead, even though his naïve nature did irk me at times.
Catfish is a hard film to recommend. On one hand, it does tackle interesting and timely subject matter, but on the other, anyone who has seen the trailer is bound to be horribly misled into thinking the film is something that it’s not. Seeing the film is almost entirely a judgment call; however I recommend staying away.