Let's face it, a movie based around a Facebook conspiracy featuring loads of Apple product placement should be a recipe for whackness.
Catfish is filmed as a documentary with Yaniv's two mates following the relationship between him and an 8 year old girl Abby. Yaniv (AKA Nev) is an ascending photographer who unexpectedly has Abby sending him a painting of one of his dance photos that was published in a magazine. They develop a non-paedo relationship where Nev emails the youngster his newest photos and she'll post a painting of those pictures to him a short while later. He adds her as a friend on Facebook along with the rest of her family and friends. He loves them, the paintings rock. They love him, he's helping Abby get her name out there. He develops an e-boner for Abby's stepsister Megan. She's legal. The `Nev + Meg 4 eva' freight train picks up momentum with him sending photos and budding musician Meg slinging her own personal cover songs back Nev's way. Meg's friends tell Nev he doesn't appreciate her talent and so on. He gets pretty into her despite them never meeting. Hmm. Mystery abounds when it becomes apparent that Meg's sending him pre-existing cover versions ripped from Youtube and passing them off as her own.
Visually the film's first half has lots of screen shots you're expected to read subtitle style. All zoomed up close like someone holding their screen 4 inches from your eyeballs. It also utilizes Google Earth. Street View, Facebook and Blackberry's and other modern technology to illustrate its story so you get to see all the details first hand. A regular documentary would give you them second hand through a talking head.
As for the real or not argument, I'd be leaning towards saying Catfish is definitely staged; The cameras/cameramen constantly pop up in the frame reminding you how reeeeeeal it all is. (A unique style I could see catching on) The two cameramen directors have pretty good cinematography. (Maybe they're talented) The directors seem to catch every relevant detail as it occurs. (Suspicious, but it could happen) The story plays out in a familiar Hollywood style patterns. You get your intrigue about 25 minutes in, some sleuthing, bit of a road trip, the confrontation and revelation toward the end, a little prologue to wrap everything up. Nice. (Can't even think of a defence for that one) And most damningly the lead is far too good looking. It's got to be...
It certainly works as fiction since I stopped searching for telltale signs as the story was captivating enough and I didn't care at the end whether it was true or not. It wouldn't really affect my enjoyment on a rewatch knowing it wasn't real as opposed to finding out say, Schindler's List, was based a phony story.
Some might mark it down saying it was predictable. I told my friend the plot synopsis and he nailed it 5 seconds afterwards, but it was great watching it play out.
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