CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
The true story of Frank W. Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) who forged cheques across America for millions, posed as a doctor, lawyer and airline pilot and fell in love, all before he was 21. FBI Special Agent Frank Hanratty (Tom Hanks) tracked him across the states, but Frankís audacious style saved him several times. A charming conman, Frankís father (Christopher Walken) was his role model, even though his parents split up. When finally Agent Hanratty caught up with Frank, it was an unusual confrontation.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Itís an irresistible true story, but itís also a dangerous temptation. Frank Abagnale is a case of stranger than fiction, so much so that any fictionalising only waters down his story. The English call it gilding the lily. ĎInspiredí by what he did as a young man, the filmmakers opted to make Franksí story a genre film, and the genre they chose was comedy. To some extent, their instincts were right: we love to root for,, and smile along with, the charming conman on the wrong side of the law, especially when heís cheating banks. We did it with The Bank, Australiaís bank bashing movie of recent years. And curiously enough Ė this is quite spooky Ė John Williamsí score for Catch Me If You Can is instantly reminiscent of Alan Johnís score for The Bank. I shuffle you not. But back to the chase (Manhattan): to elicit our compassion and support, Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect as the late teens youngster who goes on a cheque forging rampage across America that nets him millions. Yes, millions. But thatís not all. He masquerades as a co-pilot, a lawyer, a doctor (in Emergency) and thatís when he falls in love with a gauche trainee nurse. The decision to go with it as comedy shuts out some of the more interesting explorations of the character, robs the film of its promised tension (especially with a title like that Ė and the blurred poster shot is perhaps a subconscious recognition of this), reducing the man to a freak, without going all out with a freak show. Spielberg should have taken a cue from the great chefs: if your ingredients are of the highest quality, you donít have to do much except arrange them nicely and serve them up with a flourish. And you certainly donít drown them is oyster sauce. Writer Nathanson is quoted saying Ēitís a cat and mouse thriller, but at the same time itís a coming of age story, and then very much a family drama.Ē You can see the problem: too much pigeon-hole-ing into genres and styles, instead of paying attention to the character and the story. Never mind what you call it. Let comedy and drama and romance and whatever else just bubble along like Frankís life did. Donít steer it! Donít label it! To be frank (as it were), the film is intermittently engaging and fun, sometimes moving in a laboured sort of way, yet it never ignites as it should, despite the towering talents amassed. Could it be they all tried too hard?
Review by Louise Keller:
Catch Me If You Can is an extraordinary yarn. You know what they say about truth being stranger than fiction? What makes this story edgy and compelling is the fact that you really donít know what is going to happen next. It is so wildly unbelievable, that it does ring true. Letís face it, there is nothing stranger than the workings of the mind, and why people do what they do. For every action there is a reaction, we are told, and watching actions and reactions is a little like jumping on an escalator that just keeps going up and up. The question of how it ends up is no small issue. After all weíve invested more than two hours in a game of cat and mouse from the point of view of the hunter and the hunted. Itís a poignant family drama, an outrageous con story and a coming of age story all in one. Steven Spielberg puts a light touch to this tale, beginning with delightful and colourful, cartoon-like credits of steps, stilettos and stethoscopes to take us far from our own lives into a bizarre world of make-believe. Thereís nothing seedy or untrustworthy about Frank William Abagnale Jr. With the face of an angel and an abundance of charm, Frank is a lovable rogue, and as he watches tv soaps and Perry Mason to get his schooling into being a doctor and lawyer, we canít help but be captivated. Itís his naivety coupled with a boyish sense of humour that ignites our imaginations. DiCaprio surprises us with a wonderfully gauged performance, taking us from the impressionable school boy to the rogue with a vivid imagination in one extravagant and credible stroke. DiCaprio is so likeable that we simply donít care how outrageous are his whims, we are willing him to succeed. Frankís obvious devotion to his father as the great influence in his life is apparent from the very start, when he learns that everything is about appearances. Inspired casting with Christopher Walken delivering some heartfelt moments as Frankís role-model father, and Nathalie Bayeís French mother, who breaks Frankís heart. There are two things that draw Frank to Carl Hanratty Ė the authoritarian father figure and the need to be appreciated. Tom Hanks develops the multi-layered aspects of the role beautifully, offering a subtle but ultimately moving characterisation. There are plenty of humorous moments, like the scene in which the prostitute thinks she is getting the better of her prey, but in fact the joke is on her. This is a story that zings all the way through with originality, humour and pathos. Production values enhance the story and John Williams flighty soundtrack gives plenty of pace. Catch Me If You Can is a deftly told tale that has enough entertainment value to allow us to believe that anything is possible.
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Jenny Cooney Carrillo goes ON SET
FRANK ABAGNALE INTERVIEW by Keith Lofthouse
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (M) (anti-social behaviour, adult concepts)
CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Nathalie Baye, Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams, Martin Sheen, Frank John Hughes, Brian Howe
PRODUCER: Walter F. Parkes, Steven Spielberg
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
SCRIPT: Jeff Nathanson (Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding - book)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Janusz Kaminski
EDITOR: Michael Kahn
MUSIC: John Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeannine Claudia Oppewall
RUNNING TIME: 140 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 9, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
VIDEO RELEASE: June 18, 2003 (Also on DVD)