On Facebook, Bob Mondello Recommends That You Become A Fan Of 'Catfish' Critic Bob Mondello takes a shot at reviewing the mysterious movie Catfish, about which it's terribly difficult to say much of anything without giving too much away.


On Facebook, Bob Mondello Recommends That You Become A Fan Of 'Catfish'

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Coming soon to theaters are two views of Facebook. A splashy Hollywood drama called "The Social Network," about its founding, opens in a few weeks. And out tomorrow is a smaller film, a documentary about what Facebook has done to us, at least what it's done to two strangers who never would have met without it. The movie is called "Catfish," and it has a twist.

Bob Mondello is here to tell us about the film or at least as much of it as he can.

BOB MONDELLO: If this were a Facebook conversation, it would start with my name in bold, Bob Mondello, and then after that, I might write something like Bob Mondello thinks "Catfish" is delish, goes places you don't expect. I shouldn't say too much more.

That wouldn't tell you much, but for people I friended on Facebook, it might be enough, or someone might ask for more detail. In that case, I'd say it's a documentary about an online friendship. I could put up some pictures, too of Nev, a New York photographer, and of Abby and her sister Meghan and their mom, all of whom Nev starts corresponding with after the girls send him paintings from Michigan.

I could post the paintings, too. They're based on photos of Nevs that they've seen in the newspaper. All of this still wouldn't tell you much, but by now, the folks I've Facebook-friended might well be interested. So just to whet everybody's appetite further, because after all, I like the picture a lot, maybe I'd put up a clip of Nev talking from the film, shot by Nev's brother Rel and his buddy Henry.

(Soundbite of film, "Catfish")

Mr. NEV SCHULMAN: I think she has a big crush on me. So when I made that my Facebook profile picture, she really liked it and told me how nice it was, and then she thought how nice it would be to put her head on my chest and fall asleep. So then she drew it, and it's actually a beautiful drawing.

MONDELLO: Now you still don't know much about the movie "Catfish," right? But there's a lot of detail now. So because this is Facebook, and everybody's friends, you may be lulled into thinking you know what's going on.

But you only know what I'm telling you, and I'm even telling you that there are things I'm not telling you. On the Web, you can research, of course, and add lots of detail, like the movie does. Google Earth zooms from Nev's New York apartment to the girl's Michigan house. Status updates about them and their friends and friends of friends until you feel like you've got the whole picture, which is sort of what happens in "Catfish" to Nev.

Here I'd insert another clip from the movie establishing that he falls kind of hard but still hasn't met the girl he's fallen for.

(Soundbite of film, "Catfish")

Unidentified Man #1: How long have you been calling each other babe, the whole week?

Mr. SCHULMAN: Two weeks maybe.

Unidentified Man #1: So you're full-on going on? This is a long-distance relationship?

Mr. SCHULMAN: (Unintelligible). If we met each other, and the attraction exists in real life, it'll be, like, instantaneous relationship.

MONDELLO: Your mom told you to be wary of strangers, right? Good advice online, too, and it applies to the girls as much as it does to Nev. In fact, it's hard to know who you should be feeling more protective about.

More I should not say or rather will not say, except if this were a Facebook chat, I'd mention that the film's technique, all those screen grabs and fan pages and tags and pokes and wall postings is pretty nifty and unusual for a documentary and compelling, even if or maybe because you don't quite know what or who you should be believing.

And then because everybody likes on Facebook, I'd look for a "Catfish" fan page and hit like.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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