Sundance 2023: ‘Cat Person’ Review
The following is part of Full Circle Cinema’s coverage of Sundance 2023.
Cat Person is the latest in director Susanna Fogel’s film-making repertoire, and boy do I wish it had stayed in the “to be made” pile. Adapted from the viral short story from The New Yorker written by Kristen Roupenian, the film follows Margot (Emilia Jones), a 20-year-old college student who works at a theater. One day at the theater, she meets Robert (Nicholas Braun), a 33-year-old film lover. Things move in a modern fashion, where text comes before a date, and Margot falls in love with the person she’s talking with. However, things change when they get to spend longer than a couple of minutes together.
Somewhere in this sluggish two-hour movie is a strong 90-minute tale about relationships. However, it spends too much time delving into a figurative relationship between Margot and Robert that was never to be. The focal point should be Margot, as she deals with the dynamic of trying to date an unknown male. The building for Margot as a character fails to back up anything in her relationships. It spreads her too far out beyond anyone except her best friend Taylor (Geraldine Viswanathan).
Jones is truly the star of this film. She makes the lackluster scenes worth a lot more. She and Viswanathan share the best moments on screen, which does a lot for the film, especially about struggling power dynamics in a relationship. Braun is the other lead, and he’s terrible. There is no reliability in any direction of his performance. In other terms of the visuals, I love the costumes, they’re unique and show a difference in personality between the two leads. Margot is in muted, but vibrant colors, showing the balance she’s trying to maintain to Robert’s face. While Robert dresses in neutrals, showing how boring and bland he is.
The split between the original story from the short story and the added ending is so distinctive, with Margot and Robert acting like two different versions of themselves. It’s horrendous how much the stories vary. There’s no cohesiveness other than basic plot lines. Not to mention both sides of the characters are utterly bland. There’s too much time spent on developing elements of the main characters that don’t matter in the long term. Nothing other than Jones endears me to Cat Person whatsoever.
Read: Sundance 2023: Polite Society Review
Cat Person serves to tell a story of a woman trying to find their forever someone. It captures the struggle of the want to believe the best in everyone. Versus wanting to take care of yourself, and make sure you live to see another day. It’s a very real thought process women deal with on a regular basis. The only problem is the film fails to capture that story in a manageable way. It’s distracted between the first and second half of the film, almost doing the same thing Margot does. It fluffs up the piece to the point of disaster and then when it realizes it, it’s too late to recover. – Katie Rentschler
Cat Person does not currently have a U.S. release date.
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