Featuring: Emilia Jones, Nicholas Braun
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director: Susanna Fogel
In Cinemas: 27th October 2023
Based on the short story by Kristen Roupenian, published in December 2017 in The New Yorker before going viral online. It tells the story of Margot (Emilia Jones), a 20-year-old sophomore college student who starts to date an older guy called Robert (Nicholas Braun), whom she meets through her job in the movie theatre. Both are film buffs and instantly connect with their passion for movies, and slowly, the relationship turns into something sinister that becomes alarming for Margot. Susanna Fogel doesn’t shy away from her love of horror films, as the evidence shows from the opening few minutes as we are transported into the trance of eeriness. The dialogue between our two main characters about horror films is so detailed and precise as they both talk face to face from over the popcorn stand as the sounds of a 40’s horror flick spill out from the auditorium. Creativity and quirkiness are always present throughout, and sometimes, it can be overambitious when certain scenes should be simple, but instead, they are too complicated and complex. Margot daydreams too frequently at certain parts, confusing us in understanding the story and the difference between reality and fiction, but it does make it humoursome.
Sex and its origins are explored obscurely in-depth using questionable methods; there are scenes where Margot’s teacher explains sex using a colony of ants as an example, detailing the penis falling off the ant. It makes you zone out and lose interest, as it isn’t relatable or worth paying attention to. Where risks and cleverness fall flat, in equal measure, they sometimes excel when delivering focus and engagement with the audience. Great moments are scattered throughout, using text messages as the foreground of the action. Margot reads a message from her phone as the words can be seen on the screen; the movement in the context of the message plays out as if it were a live theatre play, and whenever it happens, it always works perfectly. Emilia Jones again performs to a very high standard following her role in the Academy Award-winning film Coda (2021). She has an excellent quality of being natural in every scene; she never dominates or overacts when placed in certain situations. The inventiveness never fades away and is relatively consistent in parts, the clever build-up of music creating tension, and then it suddenly cuts. The modern romantic culture and disagreements about movie fandom associated with Star Wars and Indiana Jones between our two central characters always seem relevant. It again brings up the idea of realism and the likelihood of this story being actual.
The plot consistently uses clever techniques when comparing their idea of love and acknowledging the age gap between Margot and Robert. He uses words like ‘Honey’ and ‘Sweetheart’ when talking to her, aimed at an older woman. He doesn’t know how to be a romantic and gets frustrated when confronted with awkward scenarios. Margot doesn’t understand affection or allow herself to be loved, so forever has an ongoing battle with herself in acceptance. There are scenes where she is talking to herself as if her body double was in the room, and it is hugely distracting and deflates the current promising attempt at originality. Other times, the striking words from the screenplay again grab the audience’s attention when an argument ensues between two friends in the college dorm, making it riveting to watch as the emotions flare up between them. Some things work, and some don’t in Cat Person, but it has to be commended and admired as different from any recently released movie. Modern society and romance are running themes, and the awareness and vulnerability in certain situations and people are explored precisely, making it eye-opening viewing.