You can tell right from the beginning that Catfight isn’t your everyday comedy. From the dark satire, ironic humour and quirky moments, you just know that it won’t offer the usual laughs like in Hollywood comedies. After watching the trailer, I had to see it, and what a great little movie it turned out to be!
While Catfight lives up to its name, a title like ‘Fist Fight’ seems more appropriate, as this is a bare knuckles fight to the death, between Ashley (Anne Heche) and Veronica (Sandra Oh), two former college friends. Brick, hammer, rock, pipe and wrench accompany their fists, as they beat the living hell out of each other – for no real reason, other than a deep mutual hatred. It’s hilarious and horrible, definitely not for the squeamish.
Aside from being on opposite ends of the social ladder, neither character can stand anyone attacking their image. They’re both self-absorbed, unable to be anything but. Ashley is a struggling painter, obsessed with the perfect painting, and she has an assistant that she constantly degrades. On the other hand, Veronica is rich and is living a glamorous life, as she’s married to a wealthy businessman, profiting off a war going on in the Middle East.
A chance meeting at a party marks the start of their grudge match. They haven’t seen each other since college, so they’re surprised to see one another. They make small talk, have a few awkward laughs and find out what they’ve each been up to all these years. Clearly, Veronica has come out on top where money is concerned and being modest about it isn’t really her thing. As the viewer, you know exactly where this is heading, so you’ll be smirking while the situation unfolds. What begins as friendly conversation, turns to verbal barbs, then escalates to a violent brawl.
Credit has to given to the leads, Hech and Oh for producing such bold performances and delivering so much nastiness and ferocity. There are three big fight scenes in total, each which are lengthy and bloody. Every physical encounter has consequences and the film’s real success is showing how these women deal with the aftermath. Although they’re a cold-hearted pair, you can’t help but feel sorry for them, as their punch-ups completely wreck their lives.
Action and comedy aside, this film is an interesting satire, but there’s not much subtlety to be seen here. Catfight pounds the audience with political irony, as the film presents an ugly America where no one cares about the war that has been going on. At times, I feel like the film tries too hard to convey its political messages and occasionally, it slows everything down, while we eagerly anticipate the next fight scene. Catfight is blunt and straight to the point and it doesn’t care who it upsets. I admire the courage and originality of this film, but more subtlety would have made for an even better experience.
I guess the best thing about Catfight is that it’s unique and a nice change from the “normal” comedies. It’s also very entertaining, which counts for a lot in my book, and the black comedy is effective from start to finish.
Above all, the main attraction is the outlandish, comical fight between the leading ladies and the chaos it creates. Do they kiss and make up by the movie’s climax and become better people? You’ll have to watch Catfight to find out. It’s a crazy film, bravely executed and totally mean-spirited. Quite simply, it’s a kick-ass movie.
Directed and written by: Onur Tikel
Stars: Sandra Oh, Anne Hech, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Hill, Damien Young, Giullian Yao Gioiello
Distributors: Arrow Films (UK), Dark Sky Films (US)
Run Time: 95 min
Let me know your thoughts of this review, whether you’ve seen the film or not, in the comment section!