Review: Catfish

Pete Stuart is shown the unsettling implications of the domination the social networking business has come to hold over our lives

Pete Stuart is shown the unsettling implications of the domination the social networking business has come to hold over our personal lives.

Catfish promises a very original, and slightly suspicious, combination of allegedly real footage and intensely dramatic narrative. It begins as what might be described as "romantic comedy meets video-diary", yet quickly unfolds into a compelling examination of the monsters under the bed in the technological age.

The story begins with the making of a documentary surrounding Nev (Yaniv Schulman)'s relationship with eight year old girl-prodigy Abby who paints his published photos. After becoming integrated into the girl's social community on Facebook, Nev develops an online romantic interest in Megan, Abby's older sister. The romance is endearing, and intimately speaks to the awkward personal interactions that have emerged in our modern online culture. Nev's relationship with Megan is naïve yet colourful, and, like the narrative of the film, is fuelled by website posts, status updates and messages.

The film's tone changes abruptly as the first act of this reality theatre comes to an end. Romantic interest becomes paranoid intrigue and curiosity when the very existence of Nev's online girlfriend is suddenly questioned.

Without revealing too much, the film's eventual climax is powerful, disturbing and surprising (if a little overdrawn). The film might fail with many viewers because of its tendency to switch abruptly from comedy to psychological thriller to heart-breaking social documentation. But then it's drawn from reality, and we all know that the events of our own lives rarely fit into familiar and clear-cut genres.

Who should watch this?

Anyone who wants a reality check on social networking.

The best bit:

Its innovative take on modern culture, and the exciting story.

Main criticism:

The switching between moods.

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