I caught an intriguing documentary today called Catfish. The film included a trailer that essentially left you almost entirely guessing as to its makeup. Watching it you can’t be sure if this is another film in the Blair Witch style, a true documentary, a “mockumentary”, etc. My best guess going in was that it likely had to do with stalking.
After seeing it I know understand why the producers felt it necessary to go this route. Few would bother if they actually told you the crux of the story.
Essentially we’re told that a group of friends decided to film the real life interaction between one of the friends and a fan he met on Facebook—an 8 year-old girl with very impressive artistic capabilities named Abby.
As their relationship unfolds, Nev, the main focal character in the story speaks with Angela—Abby’s mother and then gets introduced to Megan—Abby’s 19 year-old sister.
Nev and Megan exchange Facebook comments, phone numbers, texts, phone calls and each one becomes more intimate than the last.
Finally there’s talk of meeting and then things begin to unravel—not only for Nev but for the entire film and the audience.
He’s shocked to find that a song Megan claims to have written for him is a verbatim copy of one he easily finds online. This gets he and his friends looking more deeply into the entire situation. Nev, you see, apparently is so devoid of brain matter that it never dawned on him that someone would use Facebook to portray an alter-ego or, for that matter, several alter egos.
I, as a viewer, have major doubts about the honesty of the story-teller himself as, he’s either a complete boob, a complete ego-maniac or is having us on. Why? When he’s presented with Megan’s pictures on Facebook—pictures that clearly show the image of one of nature’s very lucky most-beautiful people Nev doesn’t find this at all questionable. Of course this incredibly beautiful woman is just sitting around in the middle of nowhere in Michigan wanting nothing more than to text this okay-looking guy from New York City whose only claim to fame is that he got a single photo credit in a publication no one’s heard of. Not once in the entire film does Nev (devoid of a girlfriend) comment on this amazing bit of luck.
We then get treated to the moment when Nev—friends fully in tow—travels to Michigan to find out the real story and here even those moments are hard to swallow. They go to a farm in the middle of, erm, farm country at 2:30 in the morning, driving around slowly, stealing mail out of a mailbox and then driving onto someone else’s property and past their front door (remember, we’re talking about a farm here, not a city street), without any regard for their own safety, only to get out of the car and peek through various windows—all without getting shot or even seen.
We then watch as the next several scenes show Nev getting Angela to admit that 99.9% of the story was fabricated along with the people and we end up not feeling sorry for Nev, but for Angela, and how her life has been so miserable that she’s had to invent this elaborate fantasy life just to be able to cope on a day-to-day basis.
I couldn’t help but think that the film is really a generational realization of the blatantly obvious—that people aren’t always who they say they are. In my own case I learned the very same thing, long before Facebook in the era of C.B. radio. In those days you’d hear all kinds of sexy and alluring female voices and the general response of those in-the-know was that all women on CB are 10’s but off-CB the average was, of course, much, much lower—that’s assuming they were women at all.
It seems here we get a movie that simply documents Nev’s realization that Facebook profiles might not tell the whole story. Can you imagine that? If you feel the need to pay $10 to share the ride with him then be my guest. I’d have rather been given the scoop (and thus provide it here) in the preview so that I could realize people don’t always feel compelled to tell the truth.