Catch The Fair One REVIEW – Dark & Discomforting

It's a brutal film that will get under your skin.

Catch the Fair One
Catch the Fair One

Written and directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka, Catch The Fair One follows Kaylee “K.O.” Uppashaw (Kali Reis), a mixed Indigenous boxer past her glory days. She’s searching for her younger sister Weeta, who disappeared two years prior to the story taking place. However, she has seemingly turned up alive, but involved in a trafficking ring. With this newfound information, Kaylee sets out on a dangerous journey into the criminal underworld to find her sister and bring her back home.

Unlike movies like Taken, where the protagonist has some element of power and expertise against dealing with criminals of this nature and has this air of invincibility around them, Kaylee is a comparatively weaker character. With the exception of her physical athleticism and resourcefulness, she’s merely one person standing up against something much larger and darker than her. Catch The Fair One was shot in Buffalo, New York and the dark, gritty cityscapes to the snow-covered railway yards really add to the movie’s tone.

For her acting debut, Reis does well enough in her role as the protagonist. For a script with limited speaking parts, she does well with what she’s given and has a commanding presence. Kali Reis helped develop the story alongside Wladyka, basing it upon her own experiences and activism, so having that emotional investment to the story may have helped in her performance.

In terms of how Catch The Fair One operates, it does work to some extent thematically. From the moment Kaylee sets out to find her sister, there’s a constant feeling of dread that persists throughout the hour and twenty-five-minute running time. It’s queasy, it’s brutal and it really gets under the skin in some of the movie’s darker moments.

As a narrative experience however, it’s lacking in execution. Besides a couple of flashbacks and a meeting between Kaylee and her mother, there isn’t really much development of the family relationships and how they were before and after the disappearance of Weeta. The script could have dived a great deal deeper into the characters, how Kaylee blames herself for her sister going missing and her struggles of trying to cope with that, or go more into how her mum always viewed Weeta as her favourite child. Maybe even some flashback scenes of them as a family, so that piece of bright happiness is used to contrast the vile world that Kaylee dives into to bring her family back together again.

The cinematography is on point. As previously mentioned, the locations really match the tone of Catch The Fair One, and throughout there are some shots which are really stunning. It also does well with what it doesn’t show the audience. Without going into much detail, there’s this one scene in the first half of the movie where the camera is focused on Kaylee while everything in the foreground is blurred out, but what limited information the viewer gets is really disturbing. The soundtrack, though not anything remarkable, also does its part well enough.

Catch The Fair One suffers from the same problem as a film like Mayday. There is the framework for something that could have been fantastic, if only there was a little bit more work done in the editing phase. The film does well in terms of atmosphere and the tension it creates, but if we look at the story on its own, it could do with some work. If you’re a fan of more subtle thrillers, give this one a pass. If you like the ones which aren’t afraid to get messed up and uncomfortable, Catch the Fair One is worth a watch.

Review screener provided.

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Catch the Fair One
Something of a diamond in the rough with a worthy debut from Kali Reis, Catch The Fair One will leave you feeling uncomfortable, but not fully satisfied.