Cat Person

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any streaming offers for Cat Person.

“Cat Person” illustrates the perils of dating a man whose concept of romance is Han Solo kissing Princess Leia in the asteroid belt. However, how are you meant to spot such a tiny red flag? A local arthouse theater employs 20-year-old college student Margot (Emilia Jones) part-time at the concession stand. She loves movies. Robert (Nicholas Braun), a tall and awkward regular, is someone she gets to know. Her age is more than his. She finds him intriguing in some way. She also makes him feel the same way. After a disastrous first “date,” which they don’t even refer to as a date, they begin a text-only relationship. There are no crude images or sexual discussion; just flirtatious banter. The situation is different in person.

These early sequences in “Cat Person” are engaging, subtly done, superbly observed, and superbly performed by Jones and Braun. From a distance, it’s clear that these two need to get to know one other a little better before deciding whether or not they like each other. Their romance developed in reverse. Although they had such fun chatting, in person she finds him to have a few tiny quirks that annoy her (although “Cat Person” is from Margot’s perspective, the same is probably true for him). All of the scenes between Jones and Braun ring true. You’ll be familiar with it if you’ve ever dated around. You will understand the feelings if you have ever fallen in love with someone over text just to have it end in person.

The “fantasy” scenes, where Margot attempts to imagine what Robert does for a career (imagining Braun as a construction worker/grave digger/office drone) or imagines Robert in therapy, talking about this brilliant, gorgeous girl he just met, are so human, so humorous, and directed with a light touch by Susanna Fogel. It’s a terrific way to illustrate how most of what happens in the early stages of a relationship happens in your thoughts.

Then, events change. The movie veers into the utterly absurd by using a smorgasbord of unbelievable horror/erotic thriller clichés. It wouldn’t be as puzzling if the inspiration—Kristen Roupenian’s short story of the same name—were not so well-known.

The short story’s conclusion appears in the movie around the hour and twenty-minute point, while “Cat Person” still has around forty minutes to go. The rest of the script, which was written by screenwriter Michelle Ashford, is formulaic and lessens the impact of Roupenian’s story’s unsettling elements. Why create so much bizarre material when the short story received such widespread attention, as everyone who was even marginally alive in December 2017 would recall?

“Cat Person” first appeared in The New Yorker on December 4, 2017. Short stories typically don’t spark much discussion, but “Cat Person” was an exception. “Cat Person” detonated like a bomb. Within 24 hours, everyone had stopped “talking” (i.e., tweeting) about it.

Finding a comparable phrase was difficult for me. Perhaps Brokeback Mountain, an article by Annie Proulx that appeared in the New Yorker in 1997. Brokeback Mountain’s popularity grew as well (much more impressively, without social media). Unprecedented numbers of reader letters were generated by Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short novel The Lottery. People mistakenly believed it to be reportage; they didn’t appear to be aware that it was fiction. Are you describing a current tradition, a reader inquired? People’s reaction to “Cat Person” was also perplexing; many believed it to be a personal essay. It’s crucial to understand the context: “Cat Person” infiltrated the #MeToo movement’s early stages and snuck into the cultural consciousness.

The subject matter of “Cat Person” is never out of date despite not being very revelatory (Mary McCarthy did it in The Group and Rona Jaffe did it in The Best of Everything). “Cat Person” is a movie about the complicated male-female “courtship” rituals, which are full of misunderstandings, unsaid doubts, and disregarded warning signs.

The movie does a good job of capturing some of the original’s fire, especially when it lets loose and laughs. Even though manners aren’t particularly in evidence, it works pretty well as a comedy, almost of “manners.” It’s funny how Robert is a know-it-all but also a passive-aggressive one. He is questioned about “Spirited Away,” which Margot reveals to be her favorite movie. He cannot just reply “No.” He is required to respond, “I haven’t, but I know the director.” Robert, ah. Their first kiss is terrible. Geraldine Viswanathan, Margot’s best friend and the moderator of a feminist message board, is frustrated by the way Margot defends her prolonged engagement with a lousy kisser and passive-aggressive odd guy. Like I indicated, there are plenty.

However, the sex scene perfectly encapsulates the reason why everyone in December 2017 stopped what they were doing in order to read and discuss a short novel.

currently showing in cinemas.

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