The Population, Protozoa Pictures, FirstGen Content
One of the best aspects of the Tribeca Film Festival is it allows new voices in Hollywood to be heard and for their work to be seen. This year’s festival is no different as there have been many filmmakers who’ve provided great films that will be amongst some of the best 2021 has to offer. One voice that I was intrigued to hear was Josef Kubota Wladyka’s English language debut, Catch the Fair One. A film produced by Darren Aronofsky that offers up a thrilling yet frustrating revenge tale with one of the most brutal performances seen this year.
Catch The Fair One tells the story of Kaylee, a semi-retired boxer working as a waitress in upstate New York who is struggling to find herself in her post boxing life. She involves herself in a sex trafficking ring with the hopes of finding her sister, who disappeared several years prior.
If the film’s premise sounds bare-bones, it is because it’s precisely that. Sometimes a simple approach works, but in the case of this film, its script fully engrosses cinephiles early on. It ultimately eliminates the established drama for the violent revenge uptick of Kaylee’s journey. That’s not to take away from the film’s violent moments, which effectively work. However, with the trauma-induced first half where we dive into Kaylee’s world, I would have preferred a better balance of the two.
Despite the mentioned flaw of the script, what holds the film together is Kali Reis’s flawless, brutal performance. In her debut, (real-life boxer) Reis gives everything as she not only offers personal insight and emotion to understanding Kaylee’s trauma fully but when its time to turn it up to 11, she exudes the badass heroine role that provides some of the most violent moments on screen this year.
Where Catch The Fair One is sure to stir the conversation is with its conclusion. While it may seem like a challenging task to thread the needle in closing Kaylee’s story while providing an ultimately satisfying conclusion, the film’s finale didn’t work for me. The second half of the film is set up as a redemption story for Kaylee, and ultimately, the film’s conclusion left me longing for more.
Does the conclusion of the film make Catch The Fair One an awful movie? No, it doesn’t; however, the trajectory of the movie in its first hour increased expectations that the film would be one of the best of the festival, but unfortunately, it falls right down in the middle of the pack.