Viewed – 19 February 2012  Television

Oh the horrors of the internet age.  Social Networking has become a major way for many to communicate with friends, family, and to some extent, complete strangers … so much so that relationships can be formed even if you never physically meet up.  It’s a strange and dangerous new world, and one that photographer Yaniv Shulman discovered all too well in late 2007 / early 2008 when he became friends with a family and their art prodigy 8-year-old daughter, Abbie.

This absorbing documentary exposes just how easy it is to get drawn into a friendship with someone you have never met, and how what you are told and what you believe can become something else entirely.  Directors / documentarians Henry Joost & Ariel Shulman have crafted a shocking and at times disturbing portrait of social networking and the caution we all should have whenever speaking to another person online, especially if you don’t really know them.  It’s put together from a wealth of footage shot over the eight month online communication between Yaniv and the mysterious family, and along with some good editing, lots of hand-held camera and good use of Google Earth – this is one documentary I think anyone involved in the likes of Facebook etc should seek out immediately.

I thought some of Yaniv’s actions were kind of reckless, and when you consider how many weirdos and nutters prowl the internet, what he gets up to doesn’t send the best message.  Also the final reveal and what has actually been happening, is portrayed with sympathy, when I felt like shouting at the screen.  Yaniv handles things well towards the end though, but I felt he was almost as guilty as the other person involved for allowing what transpired to go on for as long as it did.  Still this was gripping and thought-provoking, and to some extent, opened my eyes.

Verdict:  4 /5

7 thoughts on “Catfish

  1. The review sums up the film very well but weren’t you left asking yourself whether the whole thing was staged or not? You comment on Yaniv’s very calm response to the discovery at the end but couldn’t this be because the film is actually a “hoax?”


      • Is it not even a little bit suspicious that they would record his relationship from so early on anyway? There isn’t really a very plausable reason for making the documentary or any of the early footage. They always seem to be have the camera at opportune moments as well.

        I also thought the part of the film where they go to the shady house in the countryside in the middle of the night, that was used very misleadingly in the trailers, made the film seem a bit fake as well.

        I’m not taking anything away from the film. Even if it is fake, it tells a very good story that raises some very interesting points about social networks and who we talk to. Just thought it might be worth thinking about.


      • Hmm, I see your point. The movie just never came across like that for me. Perhaps a second viewing would reveal that kind of thing, if it is indeed fake.


  2. Your review is good. And like you, I had not questioned it’s authenticity. I thought it to be real. But you know, who knows, right? …Well, anyway, I just wanted to say enjoyed your blog post, as I just finished watching this flick a few days ago, and wrote my own review on it as well. If interested, check it out 🙂


  3. Thanks for checking out my blog/post. 🙂 and just wanted to mention that I totally agree with what you said in your final paragraph: “Yaniv handles things well towards the end though, but I felt he was almost as guilty as the other person involved for allowing what transpired to go on for as long as it did.” …This also did cross my mind while watching.


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