According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Catfish may tread the line between real-life drama and crass exploitation a little too unsteadily for some viewers’ tastes, but its timely premise and tightly wound mystery makes for a gripping documentary…”
Obviously, the film has received a mixture of positive and negative reviews– With its most critical reception stemming from many viewers questioning the actual authenticity of the documentary. Of course, the ways in which Nev & Angela’s “romance” blossoms is far from truly genuine– Nevertheless, the film is the quintessential portrayal of one woman’s unfulfilled dreams and her longings for the utterly impossible.
Looking past her web of lies and deceit, it seemed as if the different personalities simply represented Angela’s only escape from a mundane life. Along with their disabled children and the severe limitations of a small-town life, the daily routines of both Angela & Vince are much more difficult than one could ever imagine. Nev, on the other hand, depicted not only a sense of the big-city life, but was also able to introduce Angela to a world that she did not (and would probably never) come across. The latter heart-to-heart the two share provides a certain understanding to Angela’s reasons for such an unusual act. She tearfully confesses that all of her various personae were fragments of her own personality– This ‘second life’ of hers established a fantasy of what her life would have been like if she had not made the choices she had.
If looked at from a different perspective, the film actually has quite a touching effect. When introduced, Vince seems like the most unintelligent of small-town men. His story on the front porch, however, puts him in a much different light. The metaphor that he shares about the catfish towards the end was complex yet truly beautiful. It was a nice way to close by introducing the origin of the film’s name. And although the entire documentary focuses on aspects of pretense & performance, I felt that Vince’s comparison of Angela to the catfish only furthers this age-old concept of nothing is really as it seems…