February 3, 2023

This evaluate is a part of our protection of the 2023 Sundance Movie Pageant.

The Pitch: In 2017, Kristen Roupenian regaled The New Yorker readers with a startling, elliptical brief story referred to as “Cat Individual,” a few dangerous date gone worse between a school sophomore named Margot and a thirtysomething loser named Robert, a story of combined messages and scrambled alerts and questionable strains round consent.

It lit up the Web, crystallizing the ideas of so many ladies who’d suffered their very own uncomfortable relationship tales (and, on the peak of the #MeToo period, have been reliving them on the every day as one celeb after one other was discovered responsible of transgressions starting from serial sexual assault to poorly adopted or communicated boundaries).

The voyeuristic enchantment of Roupenian’s story lies in its ambiguity: Is Robert a licentious creep? Or only a man who doesn’t know act round a girl? Or does it even matter? And that’s the start line for Susanna Fogel (director of The Spy Who Dumped Me and co-writer of Booksmart)’s adaptation of the story, which makes use of expressive cinematic grammar to specific Margot (CODA‘s Emilia Jones)’s caginess in the direction of Robert (Succession‘s Nicholas Braun, apparently cornering the market on skinny dorks in diversifications of viral Web tales). And it really works, not less than for some time — till the actual brief story stops and it’s time to do away with the anomaly.

Tall, Darkish, and Problematic: Fogel’s method to the fabric is laid naked within the opening textual content, that notorious quote from Margaret Atwood: “Males are afraid that ladies will snort at them. Ladies are afraid that males will kill them.” Certainly, Fogel and screenwriter Michelle Ashford well spend the primary two acts cloaking Emilia and Robert’s first brushes with relationship within the cinematic grammar of horror.

DP Manuel Billeter frames Margot as remoted within the body, small, with the tall-as-a-weed Braun towering over her in reverse pictures. When her creativeness about Robert’s motives goes into overdrive, the lighting grows ever moodier, bathing him within the purple of a faculty darkroom or the backlit menace of a automobile window that traps her in with him. She imagines him dying in varied methods when she desires to ditch him, or sitting in on his remedy classes when she imagines him to be a romantic whose awkward advance she’s shirked.

It’s this negotiation between Robert’s actual and imagined intentions, filtered virtually completely by means of Margot’s subjective perspective, that makes Cat Individual‘s first two acts as efficient as they’re. Granted, Margot stays a little bit of a clean slate, a canvas on which we are able to mission all method of issues about trendy relationship dynamics: she’s younger and inexperienced, however assured sufficient to need intercourse and pursue it even with somebody she might not be all that loopy about. If nothing else, CODA proved Jones can carry a movie like this, and her assured combination of curiosity and paranoia helps carry the day by means of Cat Individual‘s two hours.

Cat Individual (Sundance Institute)

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