Catfight (2016) Review

6Written and directed by Onur Tukel Catfight details the bitterly entwined lives of two rivals, misunderstood tortured artist Ashley Miller (Donnie Brasco and Psycho remake star Anne Heche) and wealthy trophy wife and mother Veronica Salt (Greys Anatomy’s Sandra Oh) who have hated each other since college.

Having not seen each other for many years broke and unable to break into the big time Ashley reluctantly agrees to help her girlfriend Lisa (Alicia Silverstone) waitress at a swanky birthday party that just happens to be for Veronica’s husband’s business partners do.

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Disgusted by the people gathered together discussing all the money they will make from America entering the ever looming war in the Middle East Ashley doesn’t notice Veronica until they bump into each other prompting an uncomfortable reunion that soon descends into bitchy sideswipes at each other’s lives.

With the tension between the two at boiling point things erupt in a stairway with both women entering into a full on fist fight leaving them bloody and beaten with Ashley walking away victorious and Veronica so thoroughly thrashed she accidentally falls down a flight of stairs and ends up in a coma.1

Two years later Veronica awakes to a very different world with the war still waging and everything she knows completely taken away from her. Without any finances, family, friends or even a place to stay she is kicked out of the hospital and forced to live with her old maid. Insane with rage there is only one person to blame in her eyes for her misfortune the now rich, successful and famous Ashley and Veronica is ready for round two.

Blending a Woody Allen style character driven comedy drama with biting social and political comment and a horror film level of visceral violence Catfight is a crazy cinematic oddity that somehow works due predominantly to the excellent script and great performances especially from Heche and Oh.

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The key to the characters is that both are extremely likable and laughably annoying in equal measure with the actors perfectly embodying each element. Ashley is a pretentious morose artist cliché and Veronica a subservient snobbish materialistic lush and both have massive lessons to learn as they slowly see the error of their ways but only through the cathartic chaos of the extreme combat they continue to be drawn into.

Like the 7 minute long sequence in Carpenters They Live the battles between the leading ladies are both hilariously ridiculous and exhaustingly graphic complete with excessive sound effects with both ending up limping and covered in blood and bruises at the end each time they face off.

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The aftermath of these confrontations is always much more upsetting than you may imagine with both characters suffering great loss in their lives. Amongst all this is a great satire and some excellent political observation which seem all the more poignant after Trump’s triumph, including the satirical show constantly on TV which always ends its dark comedic monologue with the Fart Machine a partially naked may blowing off ad nauseum to the delight of the audience.

Best of all is the idea that Ashley’s depressing and disturbing cartoon art work including a picture of a decapitated sperm only becomes massively popular two years into the war when America reinstates the draft and lowers the age to 16 resulting in the entire country loosing many of its children and embracing the true horrors of the war an irony she seems oblivious too after attacking Veronica for her husband making money from government army contracts.

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Appearing at first to be polar opposites as the movie progresses and the fortunes of both flip flop from the high life to their lowest points we realise the two characters actually have much in common and perhaps this is why like magnets they are constantly drawn together and then propelled apart as the film only allows one to be happy and successful always seemingly at the expense of the other.

Worth watching for the towering performances alone Catfight is a fucked up feminist fight fest which manages to be brutal and brilliant as well as hilariously funny blending true drama with jet black comedy.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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