- Actors: Sandra Oh, Anne Heche, Alicia Silverstone
- Director: Onur Tukel
- Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: Not Rated
- Studio: Dark Sky Films
- Release Date: April 25, 2017
- Run Time: 95 minutes
Catfight is a film determined to follow through on the promise of the title, though somehow manages to complicate a simple premise with the uneven elements of social satire in the world beyond the main characters engaged in battle. At the center of the story may be a conflict between two former college friends that repeatedly results in violence, but filmmaker Onur Tukel is never satisfied with focusing on these characters between the fistfights. Instead, much of the movie becomes preoccupied with the world they live in, including too many unnecessary characters and odd elements which often make it unclear whether this is a satire of modern times or a prediction of where we will be in the near future.
Despite the dedication of the cast, there are no likable characters to be found in Tukel’s black comedy about petty women. In the first section of the film, Veronica (Sandra Oh) is the wife of a wealthy businessman who smothers her teenage son while embarrassing her husband with excessive wine drinking. Even though Veronica is not entirely satisfied with her life, she engages in petty bragging after running into Ashley (Anne Heche), a former college friend working as a caterer at a party she is attending. Ashley is an artist struggling to make ends meet with her girlfriend (Alicia Silverstone), and is pushed to her boiling point after enduring Veronica’s passive aggressive comments.
Without spoiling the twists the narrative has the offer (although they repeat, so that the formula becomes predictable about halfway through the film), each physical altercation between the women very conveniently uproots their lives. Each time they have a fight with each other, the film jumps forward in time a couple of years, so as to show us the dramatic reversals in fortune. In a typical narrative, the humbling experience of loss might alter the character of these two women, but Tukel keeps them fairly unsympathetic from beginning to end. Even in success, Ashley is as unbearable as she was when she was a bitter starving artist, and Veronica refuses to take responsibility for her own actions, even when humbled by the loss of her indulgent lifestyle. Neither of these women is particularly likeable, so it becomes impossible to root for one or the other when they start swinging.
This film may pass the Bechdel test, but it does very little for the advancement of female characters in film. Heche and Oh give dedicated performances, though they are never allowed to develop the characters beyond the petty selfish behavior that defines them. And Tukel’s insistence on making the rest of the world they live in appear just as pathetic through depictions of sophomoric jokes and scathing political commentary leaves the audience nothing to admire. It comes as a relief when these women finally begin throwing punches, because nearly all human behavior in the film is unbearable enough to inspire a desire for violence.
Even with a few name actors and a cast of recognizable supporting talent, Catfight is clearly low budget filmmaking. The visuals are not all terrible, but the inconsistencies can clearly be seen from scene to scene, especially on Blu-ray high definition. Even worse is the cartoonish sound design for the fight sequences, which makes each punch unrealistic despite the realistic approach to the performances by each actor.
The special features on the Blu-ray include two commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and a featurette about the fight choreography in the film. The first commentary just has writer/editor/director Tukel, while the second includes both leading ladies. There is also a slideshow of the art featured in the film included in the extras, along with a trailer for the film.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Special Features: 6.5/10