Be My Cat: A Film For Anne

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Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Be My Cat: A Film For Anne
"It's difficult to know how much acting is involved in this film - and that, of course, is part of what makes it work."

Adrian (Adrian Tofei) is a filmmaker, committed to his art like few before him (though a certain Peeping Tom might come to mind). He longs to make a film about the resurrection of a cat in the body of a beautiful woman, perhaps to help him come to terms with the death of his own cat whom, he tells us, he loved dearly. To create this masterpiece he needs the perfect star, and no-one can match the vision of loveliness that was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. So he sets out to make a film that will impress her. Be My Cat: A Film For Anne is presented as found footage, the edited remnants of this work.

Adrian is cheery, ambitious, practical. He begins by introducing us to his mother, his house and the junk-filled attic where he plans to shoot. But he sees filmmaking as a process of transformation. He wants to convince Anne that he can transform her, enabling her to go beyond all her previous performances. To this end, he experiments with transforming local actresses, and with pushing beyond what he perceives as his own boundaries.

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It's difficult to know how much acting is involved in this film - and that, of course, is part of what makes it work, as Tofei, who has worked hard to get Hathaway herself to see the film, holds nothing back in imitating the kind of work covered in the likes of S&Man and found in certain internet communities which are perhaps less discreet than they should be. The first actress approached by Adrian the character clocks this vibe right away and tries, with a desperate politeness which many female viewers will find familiar, to extricate herself from the situation. The second, however, has a very different attitude that just might see tables getting turned, and this quickly establishes that for all that Adrian might lack a fully developed concept of other people, none of the women portrayed here are throwaway victims. It's the contrast between their complex personhood and Adrian's flatness that creates much of the tension and brings depth to the horror on display.

Intermixed with this are a lot of vicious swipes at the way the film industry more broadly uses women. Adrian has very particular idea about beauty and thinness, and it doesn't take long for his fascination with Hathaway's acting skills to be revealed as part of a more detailed fantasy. The actresses he meets all have certain expectations of directors, and techniques for trying to control the situations they might find themselves in, employed with varying degrees of success. Is Adrian really all that unusual, or his his behaviour not different in nature, just a little more extreme? He may not have Bertolucci's talent but this isn't a world away from Last Tango In Paris.

Filmed entirely in English (because it's for Hathaway, but with explicit prejudice against East European cinema that's also making a point), Be My Cat looks as rough as it should and is more effective for it. As such, it makes a curious calling card, but it's not the kind of film that those unfamiliar with this underground subgenre - or those who appreciate the pastiche - are likely to forget. This little kitty has claws.

Reviewed on: 14 Dec 2016
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A filmmaker sets out to impress the actress Anne Hathaway, with disturbing results.

Director: Adrian Tofei

Writer: Adrian Tofei

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

Year: 2015

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: Romania

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