Onur Tukel/ USA/ 2016/ 96 mins
In cinemas and on VOD Fri 10 March 2017
To see Sandra Oh and Anne Heche beat lumps out of each other is a glorious cinematic sight. The title, and thus your expectations, may set you up to expect a potentially offensive stereotypical slap and scratch contest, but be warned: these punches land. When Catfight kicks into gear, it’s a full-on bloody brawl! It’s just a shame that the plot lags in-between.
Heche and Oh play former unfriendly-but-friendly college associates Veronica and Ashley. The intervening years have taken their lives in very different paths, however a chance encounter at a party turns violent and things descend from there over a period of several years. It’s occasionally funny, but too often it’s regrettably boring.
Throughout all the fisticuffs (the leads fight on three occasions), writer-director Onur Tukel tries to play with bigger ideas. It’s admirable in theory, but ultimately a failure in practice. At one point a character describes the traits of three trees: Bernie, Hillary and Donald. No points for guessing who the “asshole” is. There’s satire and then there’s just saying stuff to look edgy. Sometimes Tukel’s script gets it right; frequently he gets it solidly wrong.
Heche and Oh deserve plaudits for their manically aggressive battles and fleetingly comedic one-liners, whilst a deadpan comatose doctor with a brilliant name raises the most chuckles. Unfortunately, however, the 96 minutes have too little sparring nor enough substance to keep them from sagging on a regular basis. Tukel thinks his film is the cat’s pyjamas, but Catfight – if anything – is closer to a dog’s dinner.