There are still people out there who consider meeting people from the internet to be a pretty dangerous thing. They might not be who they say they are or, worse yet, they could be a serial killer or something equally frightening. I challenge those people to watch the refreshingly brazen documentary, “Catfish”. When they do, they will see a whole other face of danger they had never even contemplated.
Nev Schulman is a New York City based photographer. In 2007, an eight-year-old girl named Abby sent him a painting one day based on one of his photographs. The two connected through her mother, Angela, and a correspondence began that extended past these three to include other family members, including her brother, father and older sister, Megan. Before long, everyone was on everyone else’s Facebook page, wall posts and messages flying back and forth without care. Then something unexpected happened. Nev started to feel something for Megan.
They had never met but through simple online and telephone communications, they began to fall in love. Are they falling in love with each other though or with the idea of falling in love itself? Meeting someone online can be inherently misleading, both in terms of representation and the feelings that come from that. We control what we say and how we say it but so is the other person staring at their screen. And what the experience lacks in intonation and physical gesture, we fill in with whatever we want to see. When Nev and Megan start calling each other “cutie” in their constant text messaging, they mean it, but they don’t really know who they’re saying it to.
Henry Joost and Nev’s brother, Ariel Schulman, documented the experience for “Catfish”, and decided that, in order for the film to feel complete, Nev and Megan would need to meet each other in person. The road this took them down is one you’ll have to experience for yourself. It is just as frightening as it is enlightening about human interaction in this modern world. And perhaps more importantly, Joost and Schulman tackle the topic with poise and respect, instead of taking the sensational approach, which would have been much easier for them. After all, when it comes to meeting people online, you can fault the methods employed if they bother you that much but the desire is the same. You can’t fault people for wanting to find love.
Review by Joseph Bélanger