TIFF 2016: Catfight Review

Special Presentations

To be honest, it’s hard to even know what to make of Catfight. Writer/director Onur Tukel’s latest dark comedy clearly has a lot on its mind. The filmmaker takes jabs at war, the art world, class structure, female friendship, pregnancy, sexuality, greed, envy, violence, and at least a dozen other themes. For a while it seems like he even has some idea of what he’ll do with all the themes rattling around the movie. He certainly does a fine job guiding the cast through the bizarre tale and even crafts some fantastic scenes. Yet it never adds up to any more than the sum of it’s clever parts and gets downright boring and repetitive by the end.

Sandra Oh and Anne Heche star as a pair of former college friends whose lives spiralled off into wildly different directions during adulthood. Oh is a wealthy housewife and semi-supportive mother who spends most of her days looking for excuses to get drunk. Heche is an artist who lives with a loving and overly supportive girlfriend (Alicia Silverstone) yet just can’t seem to find any professional success. They accidentally reunite at a party and are soon beating the crap out of each other in a stairwell. The fight leaves Oh in a coma. She wakes up two years later to discover that everyone she knows is dead and she’s broke. Heche meanwhile has finally found success in the art world and is expecting a baby to turn her relationship into a family. Obviously that means a rematch is in order.

First things first, both Oh and Heche (as well as Silverstone) are absolutely fantastic, finding laughs and pathos and generally proving that their careers should never have dried up over the last decade. It’s a joy to simply watch these actresses play and they get some meaty and funny scenes to show off their skills. Unfortunately Onur Tukel never seems to decide what he wants the movie to be about or why he even made it. The thing just feels like a loose collection of clever ideas linked by reoccurring characters as well as a series of endless fight scenes that get less funny the longer they stretch on (and boy oh boy do they ever stretch on tediously). Maybe this would have worked better as a short or maybe it just shouldn’t have been made at all.

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Catfight feels like a sketch of a better movie that will never be made.

Screening: 

Sunday, September 18, 3:15pm, Scotiabank 2

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