Catfight

| April 24, 2017

I really wanted to dislike this movie.  As a form of promotion, the director (Onur Tukel) along with co-stars Anne Heche and Sandra Oh went on a podcast I’ve been listening to for years called Doug Loves Movies, where comedian Doug Benson (Friends) invites guests on to talk about movies and play games in front of a live audience.  Tukel and Heche were atrocious on the show, disrespectful to Benson and his audience, and needlessly confrontational the whole time they were on stage.  Benson mercifully kicked them both off the show, taking the high road by still talking about how much he was looking forward to this movie, and inviting two audience members on stage to play games with Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), who was absolutely delightful.

So, I quickly volunteered to review the film so I could spread the word of their deplorable behavior and (I assumed) tear the film apart as some small penance for their behavior.  Fortunately for Mr. Tukel, he made an excellent film here.

The story is about two women who have known each other since college, but haven’t kept in touch as their lives have gone in very different directions.  Veronica (Oh) finds herself living as a trophy wife and mother.  Ashley (Heche) is a struggling artist living with her partner (Alecia Silverstone; Clueless).  When the two run into each other after years, a few unkind comments misunderstandings escalates into an all-out brawl in a stairwell.  Over the course of the film, circumstances surrounding changing fortunes keep bringing the women together, which proves to be a dangerous mix again and again.

There’s so much to like about this movie.  The two lead characters grow and change as the story progresses, the fight scenes are brutal and pitch perfect, and the film strikes a lot of really interesting satirical chords throughout.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better film featuring either Anne Heche or Sandra Oh.  Both actors are at the top of their game here.  Veronica at first feels very 1 dimensional, but when faced with some adversity, she is forced to adapt and grow.  Ashley on the other hand also faces challenges and it’s interestingly just as character defining to see how she resists adaptation.  It makes the film more rich and deep.  And when they come together to beat on each other, each fight scene also develops the two characters in new ways, and brings the purpose of the film into focus.

At first, I couldn’t get a bead on what the satire of the film was trying to comment on.  I kept waiting for there to be an anti-government message as the fictional president in the film has declared war in the middle east and reinstated the draft to force young men to fight.  I thought it was going to be about the rich and powerful forcing the lower classes to fight their battles and secure their profits.  Then, the satire deepened into a commentary about the media making light of government overreach and the dangers of downplaying the actions of those in power by distracting the masses with fart jokes.  The other side of the sword is that it’s dangerous to let the media warp what you care about in the world.  In the end, the satire seemed to simply be about the needlessness of violence; the wars, the catfighting, the bitterness and hatred is simply not useful, and it serves no other purpose than to insight more violence.

So, on top of being funny, character-driven, and heartbreaking, the film was surprisingly poignant, and I think that makes it an important film to check out.  Doug Benson would say so too, I hope.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Dark Sky Films on April 25.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: TV on DVD

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