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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

G REVIEWS - Catfish (2010) - ** 1/2

I think there are essentially three approaches to a documentary. You have the Maysles Brothers approach where the camera studies its subjects (we act as voyeurs). You have the Errol Morris technique where the subjects are interviewed and situations studied. Finally, you have the Michael Moore technique where the director becomes the protagonist. Catfish employs the Morris technique but it never really feels real, a problem for a film labled a documentary.

Catfish follows Nev Schulman, a New york Photographer being filmed by his brother and friend as he slowly builds a romantic a relationship on Facebook with the sister of an 8 year old child prodigy. There is a strong online debate about Catfish, many question it's authenticity and feel the events in the film transpire in an all too timely coincidence. I have no reason to question how real this film is and I think all the players are who they are, what I have issue with is the awareness throughout the film.

Schulman is aware in nearly every scene that he is being filmed and he plays to the camera far too often for me to become fully submerged in the story (which is compelling). There is an instant detachment as he giggles at his own phone calls, and irritation at his faux outrage at even being filmed. Despite it's faults, this is an interesting film and worth a look. It delivers compelling debate and makes you think about all those "friends" on Facebook.