2016, Movies

Catfight (2016, Onur Tukel)

Catfight is a confused, tonally inconsistent film built around the idea of an ongoing feud between two women without weapons. At some level, I guess the premise is interesting, given that these movies nearly almost always feature men (or families, or gangs). But the execution is so inconsistent that it feels as though this was a first feature. (It’s not. Apparently it’s his 8th or something, which is a real shocker.) Here are a few of the issues:

  • The satire, such as it is, is of American society and politics rather than, say, the revenge genre, and it is extremely obvious. That doesn’t mean it’s never funny, it is occasionally, and had it not been my rating would have been lower.
  • There are relatively huge tonal shifts and it’s not clear that the fighting is supposed to be comic because…
  • For a movie called Catfight, it’s surprising that the fight scenes are the second weakest part of the film – they are seriously, albeit poorly, done. (It’s clear Oh and Heche are not the world’s greatest fight actors.) And worse, they have sound effects that suggest they are cartoonish. Pick one. Either make the violence cartoonish with the cartoonish sound effects, or make it serious. And I shouldn’t be able to spot the fake punches.
  • The device for the exposition seems interesting: a talk show host doing an opening monologue about what’s happening in the world. But it is extremely clunky and the least effective part of the film. Not only is it an extremely obvious exposition alert every time it happens, but it’s clear the guy is in front of a green screen and that it is being projected onto whatever physical TV prop it’s currently being “shown” on. It looks like it’s from an extremely low budget film. (The rest of the film, aside from the fights, does not look that way, despite a low budget, I’m sure.)
  • The music cues read like my mom’s idea of a Greatest Hits of the “classical” cannot. The criteria seems to have been: will the audience recognize this music and is their a recording of it that we don’t have to pay copyright on? Now, this criticism is nitpicky, but if the film wasn’t so relentlessly full of “The Hits” from the Romantic era, it might have been a little better.

That being said, I did laugh occasionally (even at the obvious jokes!) and I had no issues with the actors, who all acquitted themselves well. I’m just surprised that this guy is a darling of the New York independent film scene. I don’t get it myself.


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