Often when one hears the term “catfight” images of superficial catty remarks and hair pulling come to mind. After all this is how it is usually portrayed in film. It is not the blood inducing clenched fist punches that are sprinkled into in writer-director Onur Tukel’s devilishly fun satire. It is this subversion of expectation that makes Catfight such an entertaing, and at times weird, film.
The two brawlers at the core of Tukel’s tale are university acquaintances Veronica (Sandra Oh) and Ashley (Anne Heche). Passive-aggressive to each other at the best of times, the women’s lives have gone in vastly different directions.
Veronica is now a self-medicating, alcohol is her vice choice, trophy wife. She routinely spouts her unsolicited views on the world including why her son should not pursue useless ventures such as making art. Ashely, on the other hand, is now a living the life of a passionate, or self-centered depending one’s view, artist. When not being belligerent to her assistant or dealing with the faux intellectuals of the art world, Ashley worries about the way her partner’s, Lisa (Alicia Silverstone), baby obsession is changing their relationship.
By time Veronica and Ashley finally cross paths again after all these year, it is clear their fiery distain for each other has not wavered. This sets in motion a series of events, including a couple of fights, that ultimately impact their lives in drastic ways. By using Veronica and Ashely to highlight the shallowness of our society, especially regarding the one percent and those in the upper middle class, Tukel crafts a ferocious dark comedy. He uses a recurring gag involving a late talk show to both comment on comedians becoming the source of legitimate news for many, and how little changes when America goes to war in the Middle East.
Oh and Heche really revel in their roles, providing the right amount of pettiness and thin compassion needed to make their characters intriguing. While the film takes some strange tonal shifts at times, Catfight is a film that offers plenty of food for thought in between its humour and fisticuffs.