Cat Person Review

Reviews Films




In cinemas from today (23rd), Cat Person is part cautionary tale and part mirror for participants in the modern dating scene. A serviceable psychological thriller and drama that sticks with you after viewing. It’s not shocking or surprising, the events playing out on screen are mostly predictable as they are humorous. It is the pondering and attempting to understand individual character motivation for their actions through the story and being unable to decide whose side you’re on.

Spoiler: Everyone is at fault. Such is life with communication and instant gratification at your fingertips. Jump to the last paragraph if you want to go in fresh.

Directed by Susanna Fogel and based on a short story by Kristen Roupenian, inspired by lived experiences from an acquaintance of Roupenian… Cat Person stars Emelia Jones (High Rise, Locke & Key) as Margot, who is loveable in her naivete. Nicholas Braun (Poltergeist 2015, The Big Ugly) is Robert, Margot’s dysfunctional love interest. Geraldine Viswanathan (Rumble, 7 Days) backs up Margot as Taylor, a highly opinionated feminist activist who spends most of her time attempting to ground Margot’s decision making skills.

The plot here is simple. After a couple of painfully awkward interactions at the local cinema, Robert asks clerk Margot out on a date. Curious about this mildly attractive, tall, older weirdo – Margot accepts. Time passes without a date materialising and life gets in the way, so Margot and Robert spend many, many weeks engaged in a text romance. Big mistake, they fall head over heels in love with their own romantic perception of who’s on the other end of the phone.

Once their first date finally occurs, it’s bad. Very bad. Margot quickly comes to realise that Robert’s idea of how relationships work is based on Harrison Ford movies and pornography. However Margot is so wrapped up in her own fantasy of being the young supermodel trophy Robert lusts after, combined with fear of an aggressive reaction, she can’t bring herself to say no and withdraw consent. Another big mistake.

From here the wheels are well and truly off. Margot is unable to bring herself to hurt Robert and Robert is all in on this despite her obvious revulsion. When Taylor jumps in and breaks it off for Margot, things go eerily quiet. Until the stalking and pleading, the breaking and entering, intimidation and rampant violence Margot and Robert inflict on each other.

Given the common reality of these story beats, some may feel relatively triggered sitting through Cat Person. The filmmakers pull no punches through the toxic nitty gritty while Jones and Braun are totally convincing in their roles. The film may not be aiming as high as recent flicks such as She Said, but they’re whacking the same pitch and knocking it out of the park.

A glaring flaw however is the third act, taking place mostly around Robert’s home, which doesn’t connect well with realistic decision making or make much sense on top of what leads to that point. It helps to understand that this is creative licence from the filmmakers, the original short ends with the word, “whore”, which concludes the second act of the film.

Despite this, it’s the relationship mishaps and disasters playing out scene to scene that keeps Cat Person entertaining. Margot’s daydreaming is as subtle as a sledgehammer, showing us what women are thinking during fleeting moments in the modern dating situation. Taylor and Margot’s poor understanding of Robert’s motivations and psychology is extreme, leading them to react extremely. Watching Robert cringe his way to Margot’s heart is like watching a train wreck in slow motion and it’s hard to look away.

Cat Person has a bit of everything. It isn’t spectacular and is let down with its finale. A cool 6/10 cats, it’s funny with some understated comedy, it’s scary, there’s some drama and overall it’s a good time. Some may take offence at the way Robert is portrayed in all this, but that’ll be the aforementioned mirror doing the leg work.

Luke is writing short stories, screenplays and film reviews when he's not at the day job or looking after the needs of his family. So one Powerball...