AWFJ Women On Film – “Catfish” – Review by Susan Granger

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Now that “The Social Network” has explored the origins of Facebook, this ‘reality’documentary of online intrigue examines one of its more bizarre encounters.

Back in 2007, aspiring video directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost became intrigued when Schulman’s younger, twentysomething brother Yaniv, called Neev, a New York City photographer, was contacted about a precocious eight year-old Michigan girl named Abby who so admired a striking dance photo he’d just published in the New York Sun that she created a painting of it. When the package containing the oil painting arrives, it’s quite remarkable. Could Nev have discovered an artistic prodigy? Cue Ariel and Henry to start their cameras rolling.

Nev phones Abby’s mother, Angela, and eventually winds up in a steamy cyberspace text and phone flirtation with Abby’s blonde, 19 year-old half-sister, Megan. But when curious Ariel and Henry, along with guileless, gullible Nev, take off for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, guided by Google Maps and a GPS, what they find is not what they expected. Or maybe it is, since suspicious evidence already points to Megan not being who she claims to be. Let’s just say that the theme revolves around trust and the

cautionary message that the electronic anonymity of social networking can mask any number of things.

Without giving away ‘spoilers,’ it must be acknowledged that this glib cinematic experience, while twisting the poignant truth, pushes the envelope on the basic, ethical definition of a documentary, particularly when you’re told the perceptive metaphor that give the movie its title. So with its jittery, handheld camera-work, this murky, mysterious concept is beyond devious, blurring the line between fact and fiction, bordering on exploitation of identity and regret. You have to wonder: did everything depicted in the film happen exactly the way Neev, Ariel and Henry said it did, or has some of it been

scripted, reenacted and edited into an elaborate hoax?

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Catfish” reels you in with a suspenseful if superficial 6 – and it will probably hook you, just like “The Blair Witch Project.”

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.