Last night I got a chance to watch CATFISH which is being marketed as a cautionary documentary that explores the world of online relationships, or at least a couple of online relationships that one guy has.
Throughout the entire film it all felt fake to me, but after the movie was over and talking with my other film critic friends they were all baffled how I could think it was fake. That got me to thinking…”maybe it is real?!” but then logic sat in and I realized that all of this is based on the internet, so I will just do the research myself.
Now, let me stress to you that I don’t think the entire film is fake, there are elements in the film that are legit but for the most part the majority of the film doesn’t add up and most of the film was re-enacted/re-created.
I am putting a strict warning here, if you read anything below this it will spoil the movie for you. There is no way around that, so my advice…go see the movie then come back here to read this.
Everything is on camera. As a documentary film maker myself, the perils of getting everything on camera will drive you insane. In CATFISH, absolutely anything that holds any weight in the movie is on camera somehow. So for running a production company and making another film as the same time as CATFISH they still had time to film Nev almost completely non stop and at all the perfect moments. So this is either extremely lucky, or really staged.
The timing of when they actually started filming is a little weird to me as well. At what point would any filmmaker say “oh you know what, my brother got some paintings of his portraits from an 8 year old, that are mediocre at best, perhaps we should start documenting this”? There doesn’t seem to be any real reason why they would just start filming him non stop. They claim it’s because he is very cinematic and they always film him, but at the beginning of the film he states that he doesn’t want to be filmed, he doesn’t want to be the center of this documentary.
Their Blog: When I was reading up on their production company’s blog, I went through every entry back to the beginning of the site. In the film they start learning of the lies from Megan and Angela while they are in Vail Colorado shooting video for the Vail International Dance Festival. While on the plane they meet a young girl:
and give us this description of her:
That sounds remarkably similar to the Megan, the girl that Nev falls in love with in CATFISH. She is a model who has recently purchased a horse farm from a small town. Coincidence?
They also document every trip they take on this blog, as well as production on their films. However there is absolutely no mention of ever going to Michigan in the August or September blog posts. In fact there is never a mention about even shooting scenes for the film that eventually becomes CATFISH. There is a gigantic gap in posts from the middle of August to the middle of September.
Photo of Megan and Vince: After seeing the movie we know that Angela, the mother of Abby, was the culprit behind all of it. She used photos from someone she found online and posted them to a fake facebook account for Megan. The photos we see of Megan and her Dad Vince didn’t actually go online until March 28th 2008. In the film we see the photos at the beginning of the film, which is supposed to be late 2007.
Also, who in their right mind would actually believe the guy next to her was her Dad?! That is insanity that these guys could honestly be so easily duped.
Link to the mp3 of the song downhill: In the movie, after they are in Vail which we know we at the beginning of August, Nev is having a chat with Megan. In the chat she sends him a link to an mp3 of a song she supposedly recorded. I found the chat transcript on the CATFISH website:
So I decided to check out Charte.net and as of February 2008 it has been nothing but a landing page. See below:
So it is obvious that this chat transcript is completely fake. In the film this would have taken place in August/September of 2008.
The Plot: The story seems to follow the big plot twist of MY KID COULD PAINT THAT, where the dad faces accusations that he is painting the portraits for his daughter. In CATFISH, Angela, the mother, is actually painting the photos for Abby.
Angela: After Nev confronts Angela with the truth, she does nothing more than put her head down. She never freaks out. She never asks them to stop filming. Instead she accepts that she is caught in a HUGE lie, on camera that could completely ruin her marriage and everything she has, and continues to let them film without any questions asked? This is insanity to me! Her husband had absolutely no idea what was going on behind the scenes, its almost as if she wants her marriage to end and her husband to find out she is insane…or its fake.
Abby; The original subject of the “Documentary”: At the beginning of the film Nev tells us that Abby is the focus of the documentary, most likely because she is 8, and her mom is telling them that she is a local celebrity and all of her paintings are being sold around town. So they decide, at some point, that they should focus in on Abby and her paintings of Nev’s photographs.
So, a professional production team at no point goes to google in order to do some research on the new subject of their documentary? They seem pretty tech savvy with their iPhones and mini HD cameras. Why wouldn’t they try and get just a little bit of information just for the overall success of what they set out to shoot?
“The only thing we re-created were the close-ups on the computer screen“: This is the part of their explanation for the film that is super vague. What exactly are they considering “close-ups”? Is it only the parts where you only see the pages up close? Is it the scenes where you see mostly the computer and a little bit of Nev? And what exactly do they mean by re-created? At the end of the film they tell us that Angela deleted all of the profiles. Did they go back in and recreate all of the profiles? Did they use the same photos from before? At this point had they asked permission from the real “Megan” to use all of her photos in the film?
The real Megan: The girl that we know as Megan in the movie, is actually not named Megan at all. Her name is Aimee Gonzales (which we find out about in the movie). She is a model and photographer. Reading through her wall posts, it seems as though she frequently photographs dancers, just as Nev does, and is currently in New York as I type this. It seems that its a bit too much of a coincidence that they are both photographers, both shoot dancers and she is also doing it in the same city that Nev typically does his in. How is it that they haven’t run across each others path? Unlikely.
All of the above information doesn’t prove that the film is entirely fake. What it does prove is that much of the film has been recreated, and its possible that they did it in such a way to create a story where there might not have been one to begin with.
You be the judge.