Nev, a 24-year old New York photographer, is contacted by an 8-year-old painting prodigy named Abby. They become Facebook friends and strike up a nice friendship. Eventually, he “friends” her mom Angela and Abby’s hottie half-sister Megan. Nev (with his filmmaker brother Rel shooting the entire thing) strikes up a flirty exchange that blooms into a full-fledged courtship.
But something’s amiss. There are holes in the stories. Nev realizes he’s never actually spoken to the little girl. There are songs Megan supposedly wrote and performed that were cribbed from YouTube videos. And then more evidence presents itself while on the way to upstate Michigan. Of course, the cameras are rolling when Nev discovers the truth.
Catfish was promoted like a reality thriller, which is unfortunate. Yes, it’s mighty uncomfortable to watch at times; and any lengthy pondering could poke holds in the progression of events, all said to be real. But the movie taps into the zeitgeist by exploring the identities we create for our online selves.
When the assumption is that everyone lives honestly online, sharing mundane happenings and endlessly intimate details, you know there is going to be the potential for some misinformation. The movie cannily suggests that this new plugged-in reality creates the vacuum for a new kind of con, even if it’s to simulate the reality of broken dreams. (Rogue)
— DENNIS WILLIS