Directed by: Onur Tukel
Starring: Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone
Veronica and Ashley were once acquaintances at college but have since gone their separate ways. They chance upon each other at an art gathering being held by Veronica's husband, where Ashley, a struggling artist, is working as part of the catering team. Their initial conversation starts genial enough but soon old wounds start to surface and veiled aggression leads to an all out fist-slinging out on the stairwell. Veronica comes off worst, ending up in a coma.
Two years later, Veronica finally regains consciousness only to discover she's now all alone in the world and totally broke. Meanwhile, Ashley has become a renowned artist and her paintings are big sellers...
The main selling point of Catfight is indeed the down and dirty, bloody and violent confrontations between Veronica and Ashley. If the film had arrived two years ago, it might have also been praised for its political satire that runs through the background of the film. However, this element of the film pales in comparison to the absurdity of real life.
The main issue for me is that neither of the main characters, whilst sympathetic in some ways, are particularly likeable. Veronica is a trophy wife an alcoholic and an embarrassment to her husband, whose company is getting rich off the back of the latest Gulf War. She has a very disdaining view of artists, and is actively trying to get her son to "grow out of it", not even realising that he's actually very good. Meanwhile Ashley is just as conceited when it comes to her own daughter, obsessed with her own work and not seeing the talent her daughter is displaying.
The film tries to say something about the bread and circuses fed to the proles, with a tv talk show in which the sombre news stories (some of which come eerily close to those in real life) are tempered with scenes of a man running around and farting, which everyone seems to think is hilarious. I was reminded of the "I'd buy THAT for a dollar!" from the original Robocop film.
Veronica might have been a grade A bitch, but its difficult not to feel sympathy for her when she ends up at a shindig featuring Ashely's paintings, and seeing one in particular which features her image and its clear that their fight and cause of her coma has been the inspiration for her work and new found fame. This is probably the best moment in the film, when Veronica tries to destroy the paintings, fights with Ashley, steals a painting and runs out of the gallery chased by Ashley. It also has a great (if foreseeable) punchline.
The fight scenes are very violent, "realistic" affairs (they're not really realistic but have a natural look and feel to them that makes you think they are), the plot however is very contrived with the women's fortunes yoyo-ing from rags to riches and vice versa, and the political satire has been, well, trumped.
6 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)