Catfight is a dark comedy starring Anne Heche and Sandra Oh as vindictive arch-enemies who lock horns in a battle to destroy each other’s lives. It feels like a cartoon in its exaggerations, quick pacing and over-the-top fight scenes with impossibly harsh sound effects.
Aspiring artist Ashley Miller (Heche) and wealthy housewife Veronica Salt (Oh), who used to be college buddies, accidentally meet at a business party. They instantly clash when Veronica condescends to Ashley about her life choices, and they end up in a bloody fight that sends the drunk housewife into a two-year coma that costs her her family and her money. She proceeds to be humbled by a simple life with her ex-housekeeper and, later, her nature-loving aunt. In the meantime we see panels from Ashley’s life as a successful artist and soon-to-be mother alongside her baby-obsessed girlfriend, delightfully played by Alicia Silverstone – before Veronica turns up for the second ugly fight, which, in turn, puts Ashley into a two-year coma.
The movie is filled to the brim with occasionally lazy political satire. When Veronica’s spiritual aunt (Amy Hill) shows her niece her favourite trees, she introduces a “strong, but sometimes untrustworthy” one as Hillary, and Donald as “a complete asshole”. The story’s premise is around a lucrative war that leads to tragedy when the mysterious government reintroduces the draft – and the way this influences society and these women’s lives.
Tukel’s writing resounds with juicy dark humour, such as the “comatose doctor” (who “specialises in comatose patients”) and a highly amusing scene of a crazed Veronica barging into Ashley’s packed art exhibition and running out screaming and clutching one of the paintings – to the spectators’ appreciative applause. The movie deals nicely with themes of materialism and ambition: one woman is obsessed with wealth and the other hungry for success, both of which lead to their downfall and ultimate abandonment.
Catfight is unabashedly modern and flaunts a unique style, which is often the case for films written and directed by the same person. Onur Tukel uses humorous, straightforward plot devices to illustrate the problem of egotism in our money- and revenge-hungry society that blames everything except itself for its issues.
There is an attempt at reconciliation between the two antagonists towards the end, but Tukel stays true to human nature, spares us a soppy conclusion and ties it up strikingly with a return to savagery, both women having learned nothing from their recent meaningful experiences.
Catfight is released nationwide on 10 March 2017.
Watch the trailer for Catfight here: