Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Catfight Opens Friday, March 3

Anne Heche and Sandra Oh
Catfight, written and directed by Onur Tukel, is the story of two former friends who after years of not seeing each other reignite an old feud within minutes of seeing each other. Veronica (Sandra Oh) is rich, drunk and oblivious. Ashley (Anne Heche) is struggling, bitter and abusive. They're not likable people when we meet them.

In your typical movie with two catty female leads, they'd generally yell, probably cry, hug it out, become friends again and we'd get some sort of life lesson. In Catfight, we get two women who beat the shit out of each other like two dudes in a street brawl...multiple times, laced with odd talk show moments telling us about the war that is going on.

This dark humored film shows a vicious cycle of anger, loss and an astounding amount of absurdity. After a spectacular smackdown that felt endless, Oh's Veronica wakes up to a dry witted doctor (Dylan Baker) who tells her she's been in a coma for two years and her former housekeeper Donna (Myra Lucretia Taylor) who sums things up for her with mock cheerfulness 'no family, no home and you're broke but you're awake and you look great...' Faced with both the loss of her husband (in an accident) and son (in the war) and with the help of Donna and a small box containing her worldly goods, Veronica realizes she wasn't nice, needs to be a better person and makes an effort.

On the flip side, Heche's Ashley has become a successful artist painting political and war inspired art. At no point do I find this character likable. Ashley is a rude, obnoxious mean person whether she's struggling or successful and takes it out on her assistant, Sally (Ariel Karouss). She and her girlfriend Lisa (Alicia Silverstone) are having a is great until Veronica's anger is sparked by one of Ashley's paintings and we get another smackdown that feels endless as well. This time the roles are reversed and Ashley wakes up to the same dry witted coma doctor and circumstances mirroring her rivals awakening. It's at this point that I feel the film lets me down. I don't ever feel like Ashley learns her lesson, even a tiny bit, or becomes a better person or even wants to be. I wanted to at some point like her, just a little bit but, I never reached that point.

Both Sandra Oh and Anne Heche give good performances and so does the supporting cast. Yet, the film at times feels disjointed and incomplete. The fight scenes, however, are cult classic status worthy. Unfortunately, by the time the final scene of these rivals beating the crap out of each other rolls around, what was dark and humorous becomes tedious.

Catfight opens in select cities and on-demand on March 3.

One-time college pals Veronica (Sandra Oh) and Ashley (Anne Heche) run into each other at a party. The women, now in their forties and having not seen each other since school, find that their lives have taken radically different paths. Ashley is barely scraping by as a painter of politically charged canvases, while Veronica is married to a wealthy businessman who's about to profit hugely off yet another US-led war in the Middle East.

Within minutes of their reunion, a rivalry is revived, old wounds are torn open, and a Manhattan stairwell becomes home to a woman-on-woman brawl the likes of which are seldom seen outside of martial-arts epics. And now the gloves are off. The new feature from writer-director Onur Tukel takes a set-up that in most films would lead to a heartwarming story of female friendship — and uses it instead as the springboard for an outrageously madcap black comedy.

TRT: 96 min
Director: Onur Tukel
Producers: Gigi Graff, Greg Newman
Writer: Onur Tukel
Cast: Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Hill, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Ariel Kavoussi, Craig Bierko, Dylan Baker
Distributor: MPI Media Group / Dark Sky Films