Film Review: CATFISH

Documentary: with Nev Schulman, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, Angela Pierce, Vince Pierce, Abby Pierce.
Released, September, 2010
87 minutes

It’s almost impossible to fully review this film without spoiling it. It’s one of those rare films where the less you know going into it, the better. I knew it bore similarities to THE SOCIAL NETWORK (still to be seen) in that it used the special attributes of the phenomena of Facebook (and also you tube) as its motor. So I’m going to present this in a very straightforward way and leave it to you to decide what is real and what is not in this film.

Nev is a nice, good-looking young man who comes to learn about Abby, an eight-year old artist, electronically. It begins when she does a painting of a photograph Nev, his brother Ariel and partner Henry Joost have taken of a dancer and sends it to him. This initial approach leads to an intense correspondence via email and facebook with Abby’s mother, Angela, and eventually with her sister, Megan. Nev becomes inordinately interested in the whole Pierce family and especially with Megan whose facebook page is loaded with enticing pictures. He also “friends” her whole network of friends, and follows their lives in Ishpeming, Michigan as if it was Little House on the Prairie. This also turns into a cyber romance with Megan, with phone calls, pictures, songs Megan composes for Nev. This phase of their relationship goes on for many months.

And then on a trip to videographing trip to Vail, Nev and his videographing partners decide it’d be fun to visit the Pierces’s in Michigan. Even more so when some of the songs she has “written” and “sung” for Nev come into doubt. So despite misgivings about the entire road trip, they fly to O’Hare and take off by car for Michigan. Once there, they meet the Pierce family and attempt to make sense out of an unusual family.
Or perhaps not. That’s all I am going to say. If you find movies where the line between reality and fiction blurred, you will probably find this interesting. I sure did. And it took me some hours to come to a conclusion about what I had seen. Try not to read too much before you see it and let’s talk once you do.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.