New Release Review (VOD) - BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE

A young man goes to shocking extremes to convince Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway to star in his film.

Review by Sue Finn (@fountainclown)

Directed by: Adrian Tofei

Starring: Adrian Tofei, Sonia Teodoriu, Florentina Hariton, Alexandra Stroe

A great addition to the found footage genre. Effective and unique, it stayed with me for quite some time after I saw it. I’m not sure where the director can go from here, but whatever Tofei chooses to make next, I will be watching out for it.

I have seen many a strange film in my time, from Mister Lonely to Mr Nobody, but maybe none quite as odd as this... at least in summary if not in execution. Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is a found footage Romanian film about a psychopath obsessed with Anne Hathaway... and cats. A unique premise, if nothing else, and I was prepared for anything when I sat down to view this.

For anyone with trepidation, here are some things to know:

Firstly, it's not subtitled; the actors speak English 95% of the time so you do not need to worry about 'reading a film' if that had previously deterred you from foreign films.

Secondly, although found footage horrors have lost some enthusiasm from audiences over the years, I must confess to being a fan of them and their immediacy. I feel they bring me into a movie far quicker than any other filmic device.

The plotline here concerns Adrian (Adrian Tofei), a wannabe director obsessed with Anne Hathaway, and who is embarking on a project to convince Anne to star in his future movie - ‘Be My Cat’. Adrian the character funds this (off-screen) via Indiegogo, finds actresses via their headshots and portfolios, and brings them to his hometown of Radauti, Romania for 20 days of filming. Adrian the film maker, has followed exactly the same route to bring this project into fruition.

The story is told in a linear way with the first actress arriving the day we join Adrian on camera, with two more actresses arriving as the film progresses.

The film is narrated throughout with Adrian’s enthusiastic chatting to camera/Anne about his plans, his commitment to her and their future projects and what he thinks of the actresses, including the fact that they believe they are there to shoot a real film, not a tempter for Anne Hathaway’s eyes only.

At first seeming nearly childlike in his bubbly garrulous persona, Adrian’s darker intentions are revealed almost matter-of-factly about 20 minutes into the film; at this point his previous sweetness turns cloying, his self-delusion truly horrifying as he fails to grasp (or care about) the magnitude of the destruction he has wrought. Essentially, this is Norman Bates with a camcorder.

Adrian is both a fascinating and repellent character, a car crash you can’t look away from, the creep next to you on the bus that you can’t move away from. Spending the entirety of this film with him and not feeling compelled to turn it off is a testament to how expertly Tofei plays him; in lesser hands he would be too awful to watch or a parody, but we can’t help but be drawn in to this story. How far will he go? How deep do his Anne delusions run?

The ending is altogether unexpected and unconventional, nowhere near where I had thought the film was heading, and that surprise is something to applaud.

All three actresses (Sonia Teodoriu, Florentina Hariton and Alexandra Stroe) give uniformly solid performances – vital and rare in this type of bare-bones film.

As written, directed and starring Tofei, this movie is low budget done right. Made for a reported $10,000 and filmed on location in Radauti, the ‘cobbled together’ feel lends itself wonderfully to the found footage genre, the first FF film to come out of Romania.

This is a movie that knows how to work within its budget, at one time even using a literal ‘screen’ to get away with not showing all the gory details, using your imagination to fill in the gaps. Also the 'meta' through line is intriguing and cool, even influencing the final film in some almost inspired ways. None more so than when Sonia Toedoriu playing Sonya the actress calls the police in real life as she is scared that Adrian the director in real life is not filming a movie at all but is actually tricking her as Adrian the character does to the character of Sonya who is playing an actress tricked by a man who wants to make a film of her, and Tofei the director decided to use this footage of real police visiting the on-the-street set. Confused yet?

This isn’t a perfect movie; a few scenes could do with tighter editing, there are some missed 'scares' that would have been successful if mined for more; but all in all this is a great addition to the found footage genre. Effective and unique, it stayed with me for quite some time after I saw it. I’m not sure where the director can go from here, but whatever Tofei chooses to make next, I will be watching out for it.

Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is released worldwide on Vimeo On Demand on December 5th. Releases on Amazon Video, Prime and DVD will follow in January 2017.

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