This will be the most “spoiler free” review I have ever written. The trick to reviewing Catfish is how to make you understand how great it is without giving anything away. Part of the film is the journey that both you and the filmmakers take together, and if I tell you too much, I would be destroying both the intention of the film and your experience of it.
I’ve been mulling over this “review” in my head for a little while now, worrying about getting the wording just right. Since the one thing this film and the Sundance Film Festival has taught me is that truth is so important, I’ll say exactly what I got on the phone and told my friend while walking out of the theater: “This film is amazing, it not only surprises you but effects you, it is what Sundance is about, it is what filmmaking should be about, it is one of the best films I have ever seen.” I think I then mumbled something about being both tired and inspired and it rhyming after that…
The film had one of the smallest crews you’ll probably ever see at the festival, it was mainly just a combination of Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman and Nev Schulman, doing a number a different jobs. I happened to meet Ariel, one of the two directors a few nights before seeing the film and not only was he one of the sweetest people I met at Sundance but he was also gracious enough to give me one of his tickets when there were none to be had. People were actually lined up around the block and scalping tickets for over $100 to get in.
Due to meeting the filmmakers before the films, I was worried that I might feel obliged to like the film. I intentionally sat somewhere other than with their group so I could take in the film by myself. Luckily, I didn’t have to sugar-coat anything, I didn’t have to be nice, the film was amazing and I literally could not find one note, edit, or anything to criticize it for… it’s brilliant.
Nothing about Catfish is what you would expect even though it’s a story that many of us know. The film was made with so much integrity and not only tells a great story, but does right by everyone in it. Without being over-dramatic or self indulgent in anyway, it’s important, hard hitting, fun to watch, and the most intriguing film I’ve seen at Sundance and possibly anywhere else. I wish I could go on, but honestly, you just have to see it for yourself.
As some of you may know from my first Sundance post, I was a little upset at the number of big named celebs with films in the festival. I made it my mission to find a film that was made by first time filmmakers, for no money, that was better than all the other A-list movies at the festival. This was the last film I watched at the festival, I stayed an extra night, woke up at 5am and pushed my plans for my own movie to make the screening of this film and I was so glad I did. I could not have imagined a better way to end the festival than with a film that embodies the entire spirit of what Sundance is supposed to be about – great films by great filmmakers.
My advice, don’t talk to people about this film, don’t read the synopsis, don’t go to IMDB, don’t read any reviews, don’t watch a trailer, just go and see it.
This film, more than any other is about the experience you go through while watching it and you’ll only be robbing yourself of one of the best cinematic experiences your may ever have if you dig too deep.
WARNING: If anyone posts a comment to this review that gives anything from the film away it will not be approved. I am completely adamant about the plot of this movie not being given away. Now go see it!