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Catfish (2010)
Don't let anyone tell you what it is.
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Nev, a 24-year-old New York-based photographer, has no idea what he's in for when Abby, an eight-year-old girl from rural Michigan, contacts him on Facebook, seeking permission to paint one of his photographs. When he receives her remarkable painting, Nev begins a friendship and correspondence with Abby's family. But things really get interesting when he develops a cyber-romance with Abby's attractive older sister, Megan, a musician and model. Prompted by some startling revelations about Megan, Nev and his buddies embark on a road trip in search of the truth.

Catfish (2010)

Dual Deceptions

Taken at face value, this is a documentary about how a young photographer was deceived by a lonely housewife… how he gently confronts her, discovers her desperate existence and gets a tearful apology.

The way it unfolds is engaging. We do allow this woman some latitude. All of us can relate in some degree to the deep loneliness of a simple kind and the equally simple need for escape via fantasy.

What we cannot allow is the deeper deception from the other side, the side of the filmmakers.

This kind of documentary is becoming more common now, and that’s too bad because it is a hard form to manage. The structure inserts the reporter as a key agent in the story, making it all but impossible to not be overtly manipulative.

In this case, these three guys knew the Facebook character was fake, and decided to exploit it. They got lucky in some respects, but in others they made conscious decisions to extend the story for the film‘s sake.

I can understand this, but we have to be fair. There is manipulation and deception on both sides here. The drive in both cases is the same: to make a good enough story to hold a situation that selfishly sustains. They pretend to deliver insight on only one side of this.

Posted in 2015

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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