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Sundance 2023 Review: Cat Person – “Little Red Riding Hood for the Internet age”

A college student working concessions at an art house theatre decides to pursue a relationship with an older frequent customer but is this true love or something more sinister?

A B-movie is heard in the background talking about alien creatures as Margot texts about an older man customer approaching to buy concessions from her.  A flirtatious conversation ensues which eventually leads to an up-and-down relationship that involves a lot of text messaging.  The issue in play is that Margot has an active curiosity and a wild imagination that resembles a 1980s adaptation of one of Stephen King’s horror novels like Cujo and The Shining.

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Witty and quippy dialogue is not surprising considering that filmmaker Susanna Fogel wrote the screenplay for Booksmart and is certainly channelling Diablo Cody (who surprisingly has not directed a movie yet) in particular Jennifer’s Body.  The meta-movie within the movie aspect goes well with the text messaging and the importance of social media in guiding our social lives. The colour palette is stylishly vibrant and the framing allows for the narratively important text messaging to be integrated into the imagery.  There is a faerie tale dark undertone that is reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood for the Internet age and serves as a relationship warning much like Candy.

The ease of communication makes it harder to get to know people as the web of lies has become even more intricate and upped the anxiety level if responses are not quickly forthcoming.  The climax is extremely awkward to watch but perhaps that is the point and the final shot spins everything off axis depending on your interpretation.   What Emilia Jones displayed in CODA is no fluke as she embraces the dark satirical subject matter and takes the audience for a ride.  However, the male characters are the weakest link though they do bring to a mind a certain experience I had while attending a social gathering held by a church youth group so maybe not as caricature upon second thought.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival takes place January 19–29, 2023, in person and online, and for more information visit sundance.org.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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