You Will Cry, But The Amazing Catfish Is More About Finding Family Than Losing It
© 2014 - Strand Releasing
Claudia Sainte-Luce's semi-autobiographical indie has a knack for subverting stereotypes without making a big deal about it.
Like the one that depicts HIV as solely the affliction of gay men, various needle-type junkies, and hard-living urbanites, or the other that suggests there's no stable middle class in cartel-dominated, border-wild Mexico.
The diagnosed-positive individual here is Martha (Lisa Owen), a suburban single mother of four, and her progressing disease is very much a family affair. During one of her regular, intermittent hospital stays, she meets Claudia (Ximena Ayala, whose reserved performance is enchanting), a clever but directionless twentysomething of the combat-boot-wearing variety.
The bond between the women develops when Claudia moves into Martha's home as a glorified nanny-cum-surrogate mother to her children, a heartbreaking foreshadowing of a role made increasingly clear as the matriarch's health continues to deteriorate.
But Sainte-Luce primes the story with enough comedy to avoid total doom and gloom, like the scene in which the prepubescent Mariana (Andrea Baeza) gets drunk for the first time in a Wal-Mart–like superstore, and young Armando's (Alejandro Ramírez-Muñoz) habit of taking his pet fish out for walks.
Make no mistake, The Amazing Catfish is a tear-jerker, but ultimately it's more about finding a family than losing one.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.