Director: Ariel Schulman
Starring: Yaniv Schulman, Angela Wesselman
Here's a riddle; when is a documentary not a documentary? The answer may be too simple to explain Catfish, a twisted documentary that follows none of the standard rules. There is an ongoing debate as to the authenticity of this unique film, but no evidence exists to disprove the creators' claim that everything we see is reality, even when it's too unreal to accept.
Two young filmmakers, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, created this documentary in order to comment on the growing world of social networks, online dating, and identity dysmorphia. They followed Ariel's brother, Yaniv, a talented photographer, as he began a relationship with a family of talented women who were fans of his work. With most of their communication via Facebook, Yaniv grows close to eight-year-old Abby and her older sister Megan. But when he attempts to learn more about this family, oddities begin to appear and doubts begin to surface.
It might not matter whether or not Catfish is real. A definite answer to that question wouldn't change its content, only its genre. It it still a gripping, interesting, and well-made film no matter how it is labeled. 'Nev' Schulman is an excellence actor and/or subject. He is believable, attractive, and easy to relate to. The film itself keeps the audience guessing while keeping it captivated as well. At the very least, it is one of the least boring documentaries that I have ever seen, even if it is not actually a documentary.
Perhaps these young movie buffs are on to something. Amateur film-making always comes off as so amateur. But this film, with its unique style, avoids this trap and somehow seems modern, edgy, and professional. So, when is a documentary not a documentary? When it is Catfish.
My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰