People did cartwheels for this movie, but I think it would have worked better as a two-part TV documentary than as an “event” that you go out to see at the cinema. It’s pointless to enrage the internet by spoiling the story further than that it’s about a filmmaker who falls for (in more than one way) a girl on the internet who is more than she seems.
I imagined that the home video release would do something to reinforce the veracity of the events portrayed in the movie. I imagined too optimistically.
There’s a short Q&A that uses questions that were submitted somehow by some people. When the response to “was the documentary faked or staged?” is “no, we totally did not. there’s all this proof that we won’t show you that supports this”, and then there’s nothing on the DVD, you wonder.
They talk about sequences that were deleted, footage that they left out, and other things that support the idea that they didn’t stage the shit out of the movie. Sure enough, none of these swatches of footage appear, which only leads you to doubt their legitimacy more.
I suppose the next bit probably features SPOILERS APLENTY, so be warned.
In a documentary whose ostensible antagonist is shown to have flawlessly constructed an entire perceived reality using Facebook and other technological tools, the feeble answer offered in the Q&A feels like a cheap confidence game move.
THEORETICAL SPOILERS END
They create the perception that this footage exists, and without actually showing this theoretical evidence to you…they convince you it is inarguably real. Its perceived existence is incepted into your subconscious, so of course it’s real. It’s the same psychological tool used by your deadbeat roomate or friend who says “I’ll pay you back tomorrow” all the time.
Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe this footage does exist and Universal is willfully withholding it. Maybe Universal is playing a confidence game of its own to milk the public’s doubt even further until they hit everyone up for Catfish: The Farm-Raised Edition deluxe package. Cinematical’s Peter S Hall interviewed the filmmakers here, and note the bit where they talk about “the second disc” footage. Maybe they mean a pending DVD double dip?
Here’s an idea: maybe the filmmakers are conspiring with the studio to further string people along as part of their “meaningful consultation” role in the marketing mentioned in Hall’s interview above. It’s a solid read, give it a look.
UPDATED 8:32pm CST: I completely left out the most egregious omission from their questions and answers: no one ever explains why the hell Yaniv has a tramp stamp tattoo. This is the great mystery that will haunt generations to come until The Secret Diary of Yaniv is unearthed centuries from now. Thanks to commenter “Adam Lowery” for re-inciting my righteous anger.