This review contains major spoilers
Catfish is the Other Facebook Movie. The one that isn’t written by Aaron Sorkin and doesn’t have Justin Timberlake in it. It also has one of the most misleading trailers I’ve ever come across.
Through amateur home video footage, we are introduced to a photographer, Nev, who befriends a girl on Facebook, has a six month relationship with her online and then goes on a road trip to visit her. When he finally reaches his destination, all is not what it seems.
The trailer for Catfish suggests that the film turns into a horror or a conspiracy theory movie at this point.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFKe75Q6eVw[/youtube]
Instead, we learn that the girl from Facebook is actually a married middle-aged woman who cares for two handicapped children at home and suffers from loneliness. She decides to escape her reality by creating an online persona and goes to pretty extraordinary lengths to build upon this fiction. She creates over a dozen fake friend accounts for her online creation to make her Facebook page look more credible.
When he learns this truth, Nev is incredibly understanding and patient. He listens to her story and learns about her life. They chat a little and then he leaves. That’s where the credits roll.
After I got over the initial confusion and annoyance over the misleading trailer, I can appreciate that there’s a moderately interesting documentary about one woman’s loneliness and how she copes with it. And Nev is a far more understanding person than I would be, for someone who has travelled four hundred miles to hook up with an attractive online girlfriend who it turns out doesn’t really exist.
That said I feel as though the filmmakers really unnecessarily structured this documentary around having a big twist and I presume that they are also complicit in its misleading marketing. I can’t help but feel a bit sour about their need to bait and switch. Have some faith that your audience want to watch your film! I feel as though most of the discussion around this film will be centered on what its not, not what it is.