In 2007, filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost starting filming a documentary of Ariel’s brother Yaniv (Nev), who is a 24 year old photographer from New York. This film is an intriguing documentary about love and deception and how Nev gets involved into a internet relationship on the facebook. It all starts when one of Nev’s photos appeared in The New York Sun on August 13,2007. Three months later he received a painting of his photograph in the mail. The painting was really extordinary and beautiful painted by a 8 year old girl named Abby.
She lives in Ishpeming, Michigan with her mother Angela, her father Vince, brother Alex, and half-sister Megan. Soon enough Nev becomes Abby’s internet friend chatting with her almost everyday. They talked about Abby’s paintings and her family a lot . He begins to talk to Megan when she sends him a copy of her music she records with her brother Alex, and is immediately attracted to her. She is 19 years old and works at a vets office, she is a dancer and musician. Nev soon falls into a complicated on-line relationship with Megan and when he decided to meet her in person, he learned that Abby and Megan’s family were not at all what he expected them to be.
Everyone should see Catfish- not because of the twist, but because of how powerfully and weird it speaks to our time, to internet culture and the way it allows the controlled illusion of intimacy. It’s a film about storytelling about how a lonely Michigan housewife creates a stageful of made up characters, with which to flatter, entice and woo a sophisticated New Yorker and when that New Yorkers friends show up at the house with cameras, ends up wrestling control of the narrative, not to mention sympathy, from them simply by coming across as more human. And that’s something to see. This documentary begins when Abby sends Nev a picture of her painting that she did of his photograph. She was a really good painter for her age, since she was only 8 years old. They quickly began a facebook relationship where they would write each other back and forth almost everday.
He soon develops a relationship with Abby’s mother Angela talking about Abby’s paintings and how they were going to buy that art studio for Abby to sell her paintings in. Angela said that Abby sold one of her paintings for $7,000. Nev was so amazed by how inspiring and incredible Abby really was. Not long after Nev gets to get to know Abby, her sister Megan starts to send him pictures of herself and they were instantly attracted to one another. Megan had just moved out of her mother’s house and had bought a farm house in Gladstone, Michigan where she said she had horses and other animals. She was a veterinary assistant who loved animals as well as a musician, dancer, and photographer as well.
Megan sends Nev a song that she had song and recorded with her mother Angela. He was absolutely amazed by how beautiful her voice was. The two talked on the phone and exchanged steamy text messages about their attraction, but the closest they had actually come to being together was in a photo Nev doctored on the computer of themselves. He titled it “Someday”, because he always hoped they would meet in person. They talked about meeting each other one day, because Nev was starting to grow a lot of feelings for a girl who he has never met. He actually thought that she could be the girl for him even though they had never met.
One day he gets a call from work getting a job with his brother Ariel and friend Henry to go to Vail, Colorado. They figured this would be a perfect opportunity to meet Megan, since Colorado is a lot closer than New York is. Megan and her family agreed to meet him once he got to Colorado, but before they could meet, Nev discovered something so shocking that it would destroy him. Nev, Ariel, and Henry was looking up one of Megan’s songs and found out that she had copied it off the internet, that it wasn’t her singing it at all, so they looked up some other things to see if there was any more lies that were told. Nev looks up the art studio that Angela was supposed to of bought for Abby’s paintings and finds out that it is still listed, so they call the real estate agent to see if it is still for sale.
The real estate agent told them that it was still for sale, so Angela was lying to Nev too. It has seems like Megan and her family are not who they say they are. The three boys decided that they had to get down to the bottom of this and find out who Megan and her family really were. After their dance film is finished they head out to Michigan to surprise Megan and her family with an unexpected visit to catch them off guard. Megan had told Nev that the family has breakfast every Sunday morning, so that’s when they planned on surprising them. Once they got to Michigan it was very late, but they were too anxious to go to bed, so they decided to drive by Megan’s farmhouse in Gladstone and finds out Megan doesn’t live there and she doesn’t have any horses in the garage.
The next morning they got up really early to go to Megan’s family’s house to surprise them during their family breakfast. Angela and Abby do indeed live there, but Megan was no where to be found. Nev is excited to finally meet Abby, but she doesn’t seem to know who he is, like she has never talked to him before. So Nev is really starting to wonder what has been going on with the whole situation and where is Megan, does she even exist? Come to find out, Abby doesn’t even paint at all. Angela is the one who paints and she also takes care of her two mentally retarded twin step-sons Ronald and Anthony, who are totally depended on her to do everything for them. Angela never mentioned any of this to Nev before. This is the first time he ever knew about the boys and now doesn’t believe anything that has happened over the past 9 months is real. Nev asks Angela to sit down with him so he can finally get to the bottom of everything. He asks her if there even is a Megan and at first there was.
Megan was supposed to come see Nev, but then she texted his phone and told him that she had a drinking problem and that her and her brother Alex were checking themselves into a treatment center called, Dawn Farms, but then Angela admitted that there was a Megan in Dawn Farms and has been there for four months, but Nev has never talked to her. Come to find out there is no Megan at all. Angela had made her up along with all the dozen or so family and friends in dialogue with Nev on her facebook page, using photos and facts culled from Internet and from her own life. Angela seems to have fabricated these fictional people on Facebook as a way to escape the regrets that came with sacrifices she had to make in order to have a family and a stable life. She seems to do it also to make Nev fall in love with her , and making up whatever lies sheneeds to in order to hold that world together.
She shows Nev the two cell phones that she had used, one for Megan and one for herself. While Angela gradually owns up to all of these offenses, Nev sits for a pencil portrait that Angela is making. They revisit the virtual love affair they created together over the past eight months. He looks straight at her as she draws, with affection and a kind of awe. He couldn’t believe that this women has been doing this to him for eight months. People can learn a lot about having an internet relationship just by watching this movie. You never know who you are talking to unless you meet them first. There is no safe way to begin an online relationship unless you know that person first. It can be very dangerous and heartbreaking. Nev and Megan sent over 1500 messages over an eight month period not including a lot of phone calls and sexting. To this day Nev still receives paintings from Angela and they still talk on Facebook with each other.
Courtney from Study Moose
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