We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Here's one way to look at "Catfish." Some filmmakers in New York City, who think they're way cool, get taken apart by a ordinary family in Ishpeming, Mich. You can also view it as a cautionary tale about living your emotional life on the Internet. Or possibly the whole thing is a hoax. At Sundance 2010, the filmmakers were given a severe cross-examination and protested their innocence, and indeed everyone in the film is exactly as the film portrays them.
To go into detail about that statement would involve spoiling the film's effect for you. I won't do that, because the effect is rather lovely. There's a point when you may think you know what I'm referring to, but you can't appreciate it until closer to end. The facts in the film are slippery, but the revelation of a human personality is surprisingly moving.
The film opens in the Manhattan office of Nev Schulman, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, who make videos and photographs of modern dancers. I'm going to guess they're 30-ish. Nev has received a painting of one of his photographs from Abby Pierce, an 8-year-old girl. They enter into a correspondence — or, more accurately, Abby's mom, Angela Pierce, e-mails for her. Just as well. Would you want your 8-year daughter online with some strange adult Facebook friend?
Never mind. Nev is a wholesome, even naive man, is touched by Abby's paintings, and begins to identify with the whole family. He learns of school plans, pie baking, Sunday family breakfast, and the horse farm that Abby's 19-year-old sister, Megan, is buying. I doubted that detail. It would take a New Yorker to believe horse farms in Michigan are cheap enough for a 19-year-old to buy. She could afford a horse, farm not included.