Onur Tukel's Catfight, is a surprisingly violent but troubled black comedy about a bitter rivalry. Between the ludicrous feud at the heart of the story and the years-spanning structure, Tukel's inspirations can be traced to classic tragedy and, more interestingly, Robert Zemeckis' Death Becomes Her.
Anne Heche aces the self-absorbed struggling artist whilst Sandra Oh shines as an entitled housewife, it’s a friends-turned-rivals scenario and that's always fun when it goes all out. There are some sheer hate-fuelled all out bust ups in Catfight. The dialogue on cyclical violence is fine, but it’s a film too often robbed of its fun by increasingly dour happenstance and repetition. Bad luck gets in the way of everything and a potentially dystopian background of political turmoil gives the world a sudden ability to drop bad luck on either character and readdress the delicate balance of power.
Zemeckis' Death Becomes Her, a gothic thriller about immortal bitches, is a dead-on dialogue about the dead-end nature of hatred, Tukel's Catfight is an interesting modern take on those ideas. If anything Catfight feels like it wants to point out the inherent problems with far-left or right wing stereotypes by showing how incompatible/insane they are. Behind all of the slapstick Tukel is wagging a finger vehemently in the direction of the last US election. In a way, that really works because polarised thinking led to much of the current political climate. Tukel presents two self-absorbed caricatures whose hatred is symptomatic of bad attitude as opposed to politics.
Even if the ideas are all fine, the film is just too dark. Heche and Oh are consummate performers, and Alicia Silverstone gives a nice supporting turn, but the fights are eventually tedious and the world too depressing to enjoy. Catfight is best when flinging two superb performers at each other fist-first, but those moments are rare and not outrageously varied. The script doesn't allow its actors enough room to exploit the latent stupidity of the story, which results in an uncomfortably preachy vibe. On one hand, Catfight is a farcical feud, boisterous and resolute, on the other it’s a depressing moral tale without the energy to keep up its premise.
CATFIGHT / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ONUR TUKEL / STARRING: ANNE HECHE, SANDRA OH, ALICIA SILVERSTONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 5/10