Skip to main content

Style Magazine

Film Review: Catfish

Feb 19, 2011 04:40PM ● By Wendy Sipple

Catfish is a very unexpected film. The twist in the film was very guarded during its theatrical release so if you’d rather not know please stop reading.

For those that already know or don’t care I will continue. Catfish is about Nev Schulman who becomes involved with a family through Facebook. The first half of the movie follows Nev and his varying relationships with the family until it focuses on a romantic relationship he develops with the oldest sister from the family. He not only exchanges Facebook posts, but e-mails, texts, and phone calls. The family sends him gifts and art as well.

The twist comes right about the halfway point in the movie when Nev and his friends find that music that his girlfriend claims to be hers is actually recordings of other artists on Youtube. Nev and his two friends decide to investigate and actually fly to Michigan to meet this family in person.

Catfish becomes, not only interesting, but thought provoking when Nev and his crew meet this family. It turns out that a housewife in her late forties, Angela, has developed a very intricate world of lies and posed as the many characters who Nev had interacted with.

What Catfish taps into is how the Internet, and, in particular, the social media Web sites, can fill a person’s desires for emotional connections and even fuel a sort of fantasy of experiencing one's dreams.

Listening to Angela deconstruct her intricate fantasy of lies she built on Facebook, about the despair and loneliness that is her “normal” life, and the loss of her youthful dreams is heartbreaking but also relatable.

Catfish makes you think about your own interactions on the Internet as well -- just as Angela, but hopefully not to the extent she did, we put our best foot forward when we present ourselves online.

Further, the movie brings us to question how much we accept Internet interactions as truth. It is common place now for people to not only meet but date, hire and do business on the Internet, but how much do we really know about the people we are dealing with? Even news media now cites bloggers as sources and have had to rescind stories after learning that they were false.

You can definitely question whether Catfish is an actual documentary. The filmmakers adamantly claim that it is actual events. In my opinion it really doesn’t matter.

While Catfish may not be the most entertaining movie, I do think its subject and how it’s presented in the film offers a lot of issues that should be discussed. It’s not the type of movie that warrants repeat viewing but I strongly recommend people seeing this film once, especially parents whose children frequent social media sites.

FILMS LIKE CATFISH : Super Size Me and Bigger, Faster, Stronger

Click here to buy the film directly from

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.