Catfish

Rating: ★★★★☆

Was it staged? Was it scripted? Was it re-enacted? Is it real? Is it fake? Is it a mixture of both? Would it be ironic if the makers of this film employed the same tactics as their subject by presenting us with something that isn’t entirely what we were hoping for? The only people who know the absolute truth to these questions are those who are directly involved in its production, and I will leave it at that.

Surely, many have their theories and opinions regarding its authenticity. That includes me, but to dwell on that subject primarily would be a waste, for there are many things about “Catfish” that we can be sure of. What we have here is an example of exploitation of the Internet. Have you ever been stalked, or even worse, spammed, on Facebook? This is creepier.

Nev Schulman is a photographer in New York who lives with his two best friends, who are filmmakers. In late 2007, Nev discovers that a little girl from Michigan, named Abby, has been drawing paintings of Nev’s photos. Because they are far apart, they communicate through the Internet. Nev gets to know Abby’s mother, Angela, and her 19-year-old sister, Megan. Soon enough, a long-distance relationship is formed between Nev and Megan, and they long for each other’s company. Can we, in some way, relate to Nev? How many of our Facebook do we really know?

Megan’s existence later becomes doubtful to Nev, and with rolling cameras, he and his friends investigate. I can only tell you that they will find something. But, once found, the truth itself is not completely shocking, but rather it is how these people respond to each other that cause interest. What kind of people would go to such an extent to be able to do what they did? Why did they do it? If real, why did the cameras keep rolling? If fake, why tell it at all?

There is one person in “Catfish” that is a voice for many of us. The revelation of this person’s motivations within the social networking world will cause us to question our own. How do we use these advantages, and why? Can we accomplish things in the cyber world that we failed at in this life? I think it depends on the goal, but for some, the mere illusion of accomplishment is enough, and that gives them security, or a hobby, or a lover. (And what about the filmmakers? Did they continue filming because they wanted this person’s voice to be heard, or did they just wanted footage?)

We can ask so many questions about “Catfish”, (Is it REAL?!), but the only answers we can find are those we can relate to ourselves. One day, maybe later, you will have a friend request. Now ask yourself, “Do I really know this person?”

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Catfish