★★★ / ★★★★
Yaniv “Nev” Schulman’s friend and brother, Henry Joost and Ariel “Rel” Schulman, decided to make a documentary about Nev’s communication, through Facebook and occasional phone calls, with a family in Michigan. Abby, the youngest of the family, e-mailed Nev claiming that she loved his photographs so much that she decided to make a painting off one of them. Apparently, her paintings were being sold for thousands of dollars. Eventually, Nev and Megan, Abby’s older sister, began to Facebook, text, and call each other. Everything seemed to be going well; Nev was especially happy because he genuinely believed that he found someone he could be in a serious relationship with despite the fact that they haven’t met in person. However, after discovering pieces of information that did not quite add up, the trio surmised that Megan might not be telling the truth. Nev, Henry, and Rel went on a road trip to Michigan to get to the bottom of things which was tantamount to opening Pandora’s box. “Catfish” was a fascinating documentary because I was convinced that everything that was happening wasn’t real. After all, who would wait about eight months to Google someone they haven’t met in person yet had all sorts of correspondences with that person? Regardless, I went along with it because the subject matter was creepy. I had so many questions I wanted answers to such as who Megan really was, whether Abby was really a gifted child artist, and what would happen once the three got to Michigan. There were times when it got downright scary. When the New Yorkers visited a farm in the middle of the night, which Megan supposedly owned, I expected them to get caught and get shot. You just don’t drive in the middle of nowhere and spy on someone else’s land. Other times, it was just sad. Either Nev was a really good actor or Nev really did fall hard for Megan. One scene that stood out to me was when Nev decided to read to the camera some of the texts he and Megan sent each other over the course of their flirtation. It was very personal, undoubtedly hilarious, and embarrassing. There was a certain sadness to it because Nev couldn’t believe he was tricked into believing that he found a potential girlfriend. What “Megan” did was very cruel but, as strange as it sounds, I was able to emphathize with her. Indeed, the trio did meet her. The film wasn’t necessarily about a critique of Facebook, but more about the dangers of being a part of social networks over the internet and easily allowing strangers to enter our lives just because they have a profile page. Even though the filmmakers did not directly address the issue of privacy, it was obvious that we should take more precautions concerning people we choose to interact with online.
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