Catch Me If You Can is my #2 Blindspot review of the year. Yes I know I’m a little behind schedule but I’ll try my best to get all of them out before the year ends :p If you dont know what the blindspot series is, it’s a little something that some movie bloggers like myself partake in. Basically we choose about 10 movies that we’ve always wanted to see but somehow never really got to it,watch them in the given year and review 🙂 So without further ado, here’s how I felt about Spielberg’s cat-and-mouse story based on the real-life case of conman Frank Abagnale. SOME SPOILERS AHEAD,I tried to minimize them but there’s some I just couldn’t miss.
When you have household name Steven Spielberg,the go-to name for even people not well versed in film when asked ‘Who’s your favourite director?’ (because let’s be honest,you can’t go wrong with Spielberg), America’s most trustworthy person of 2015 Tom Hanks (I’m not kidding), and the single actor who could unite the whole world in a single hashtag #OscarForLeo, you know you’ve got something special. If you could pick just 3 actors/directors that have the most prize nominations in total, they are probably right here. But we don’t ride this because of the name or status, fame or how they’ve won our hearts over with moving pictures.
Catch Me If You Can is powerhouse display of great acting skill and riveting direction. When it comes to sucking us into the thick of the plot, Spielberg harnesses our capacity to symphathize with Abagnale’s wanderlust for impersonation and deception. Because Spielberg makes unusual emotional turns in the film, we are drawn to the little things, the incomplete aspects and the unfufilled. For all the running,hiding and seeking that involves the crime and law, unbeknownst to our protagonists is the fact that they’re running,hiding and seeking things within themselves. One side exhilirating and another piercingly real, this is a well-thought out biography I’m sure anyone can really get into.
To be fair, Frank’s story in itself is incredible. I’m not going to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen the film (there’s even a musical about it) but it’s no surprise that he re-wrote the rules of deception and con tricks. In the film, you see Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) fly miles as a flight captain, fake ID’s like a walk in the park and cash cheques without any trails. Leo takes the role in his stride as his smooth charm is perfect for the duplicitous nature of his character. Tom Hanks on the other hand brings the sort of straight cop gets unlucky kind of disposition. He’s earnest and determined to catch Abagnale while Abagnale is earnestly avoiding getting caught for obvious reasons. The sort of passion that goes into the two performances cannot be smeared nor disregarded; On screen, the drive that both characters possess in opposite directions ironically bring them closer to understanding each other. Once the first phone call is made on Christmas Eve from one end to the other, Spielberg establishes a more emotional connection both within and between his characters that go beyond their plain objectives.
Problems arise when I try to go deep into a story that’s mostly a true-to-life depiction. I don’t suppose I know what really went on in Frank Abagnale’s life so let me critique solely on the art. As the film progressed, I couldn’t help but feel like it got better and better. Instead of waddling in the high-flying life of crime, Catch Me If You Can is so much more. It is about family, about survival, about trying times and desperate people; But most importantly, it is about identity and insecurity. That’s where Christopher Walken is so effective in his role. I think he did a great job portraying a father who’s both proud and yet pained. But perhaps the effects bear the hardest on Frank himself. DiCaprio skillfully dives into his character’s curious obsession which becomes at once an extraodinarily deviant and yet sympathetic. And then it hit me. Abagnale’s constant need to don different personas is encapsulated in the fantastic airplane confrontation and a hard-hitting Christmas night.
This is definitely one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t usually roll with biographical films or ones which give you that ‘Based on a true story’ right smack before the film begins. I find it hard for films like that to experiment or have its own unique voice. Spielberg proves me right. Catch Me If You Can isn’t spectacular like that. But it is spectacular. And it just goes to show that a film doesn’t have to be splashy and artsy to be great. Ironically, for a film that’s about shifting identities, it actually has an identity, a heart…a message. In the end, it’s about how we’re all like Frank…we masquerade ourselves, refashion our identities, scour for things on the outside in attempts to fill the void inside…maybe even escape it altogether. Let’s hope we can find the peace within because frankly(pun intended), this cat-and-mouse game isn’t so much with others as it is with ourselves.