Cat Person Review

Monday 23 October 2023

Plot: When Margot, a college sophomore goes on a date with the older Robert, she finds that IRL Robert doesn't live up to the Robert she has been flirting with over texts. A razor-sharp exploration of the horrors of dating.

Film: Cat Person

Director: Susanna Fogel

Writers: Michelle Ashford, Kristen Roupenian

Starring: Emilia Jones, Nicholas Braun, Geraldine Viswanathan

The film opens with the quote; “Men are afraid of being laughed at by women, women are afraid of being killed by men.”, which comes from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This immediately sets an eerie tone when Margot meets a tall, dark and awkward stranger while on shift at a movie theatre. Robert asks for her number by calling her ‘concessions girl’ in the most condescending tone, despite her wearing a name tag saying Margot, and for some reason she says yes. To say I was in disbelief already would be an understatement. 

Ignoring multiple red flags, Margot begins texting Robert daily even when it becomes obvious that they aren’t very compatible. When they meet up its awkward and not in an endearing way. Margot is afraid and imagines Robert hurting her in a scenario that we see play out on the screen, before splicing back to a reality where nothing has happened, except now we as an audience are also afraid of this stranger. It’s truly a bizarre watching experience, both characters seemingly making every wrong decision Margot regarding her safety and Robert regarding appearing non-threatening. 

The title of the film comes from Robert telling Margot that he’s a cat person and has two of his own that he dotes on. When Margot goes over to his house, she finds no cats, recounting this information later to her friend Taylor, after having slept with Robert, Margot reaches the conclusion that Robert had only said that he had cats to appear less threatening. From there Margot decides she no longer wants to see Robert and texts him that, after a seemingly respectful acceptance; things go downhill fast but unfortunately the twist left me unsatisfied. 

What ultimately disappointed me about this film is that it was unclear, whose side we were meant to be on. In the final act, they portrayed Margot as an unreliable narrator. After building up such a raw and real portrayal of the fears of dating and then rejecting someone when you don’t trust how they will react, the director takes implies that actually Margot may just have imagined the whole thing. 

After suspecting that Robert lied about having cats, we discover that he did, in fact, have at least one cat. We also discover he’s a nurse, which is something that Margot never thought to ask him. While being a nurse who has a cat doesn’t make him a good person it contradicts the things that we thought we knew about him, and if these things end up being very normal and innocent, what else was Margot wrong about? 

Robert gives Margot many reasons to be afraid of him. His abusive texts, turning up at her work, but upon hearing his side of the story, he seems hurt and afraid and at least has some reasons for how he acted. I wasn’t sure what to believe. 

What I thought I was going to watch was a film that would accurately portray the struggles of dating and maybe even become a teachable moment for men, but what I felt like I got was a gotcha moment. Maybe she was crazy all along his only crime was being socially awkward. While I think this balance is important and in a real life situation you would look at both sides of the story, that wasn’t the film I feel that was advertised to us.

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