When dating is as precarious an enterprise as it’s ever been Margaret Attwood’s quote, ‘Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them’ is apposite though after recent revelations quite where Russell Brand fits into all this is anyone’s guess. The quote fills the screen of ‘Cat Person’, a film based on the 2017 short story in The New Yorker and was the talk of twitter at a time when the #MeToo movement was starting up so its little surprise that it was optioned for a film.
The Cat Person is Robert (Nicholas Braun) a tall awkward movie fan (who purports to love cats) and who regularly sees Margot (Emilia Jones) a 20 year old college student who works at the cinema he frequents. She is as intrigued by him as he is by her and they hit it off in a slightly awkward manner going on a date that isn’t really a date and continue a text only relationship thats part flirty, part red flag warning, part ambiguous messages (‘I’ll take care of u’). It’s a really engaging first act as Margot plays out in her mind what she thinks and hopes he is and will be. However he’s socially awkward living his life through film and relating emotional moments to those in films – the essence of romance for him is Han Solo kissing Leia for the first time. The whole relationship is seen through Margot’s eyes and we only get to know him through what she sees, hears and experiences with her with the help and not always best advice of her best friend Taylor (Geraldine Viswanathan – excellent in the recent ‘The Beanie Bubble’ – reviewed HERE) who moderates an online feminist message board.
Eventually they do become an item but he’s clearly woefully inept at dating and can’t even kiss properly in one of several awkward to watch moments but the stand out scene is one where they consummate their relationship. There is nothing romantic or erotic here, Instead it is an absolutely excruciating watch yet at the same time very funny albeit uneasy.
But what is initially a comedy of manners about modern day dating veers into thriller territory something that the short story never did and its peculiar as to why the filmmakers have done this as it doesn’t need to and expands the film to two hours rather than the ninety minutes it would have been had it ended where the short story ends.
Emilia Jones is great in the role, confident yet vulnerable and too attractive for him whilst Braun is passive / aggressive and socially awkward too but ultimately is too old for the role. For those familiar with the short story this film version may disappoint and ultimately the film probably should have steered clear of becoming a thriller but the first two acts of Cat Person are as accurate an insight into modern dating as we’ve had in a long while.
related feature: Dating horror film, ‘It Follows’ – LIMITED EDITION 4K UHD / BLU-RAY
Here’s the Cat Person……