Dave and Rachel's movie reviews.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Catch Me If You Can

Year: 2002
Running time: 141 minutes
Certificate: 12
Language: English
Screenplay: Jeff Nathanson
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Nathalie Baye, Martin Sheen, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner

Frank Abagnale Jr. faking the high life.
Just after the turn of the millennium, Steven Spielberg directed three films that marked the start of a kind of reinvigoration. It's not like he'd become a bad director or anything, but this trio of films seemed to kick-start a new period of inspiration for the director, and with last year's outstanding Bridge of Spies and a new version of The BFG not far away, it hasn't stopped yet. It's a bit like Bruce Springsteen and The Rising. And what’s more, he seems to be improving with age. Catch Me If You Can made up one of those three films, along with Minority Report and A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Lightest in tone of the three, it is a wonderful story, skilfully told, about a boy who runs away from home and forges more than $4 million worth of cheques while impersonating an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. Brilliantly, this is based on a true-life account; that of Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio).

As with many Spielberg films, it is a broken family unit that sits at the heart of the story – it is the breakdown of young Franks’ parents’ marriage that is the catalyst for these events. In his youth Frank idolises his father Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken). When told his parents have split up and he must choose which one of them to live with, Frank makes a run for it and doesn't look back. As Frank forges a living he sparks the interest of F.B.I. agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) who invests years in the chase of cat and mouse.

It is this relationship that forms the core of the story; the two move from grudging respect to genuine friendship, with Frank making a point of calling Carl on Christmas Day just to be able to talk to someone who understands him.

Carl Hanratty, closing in on Frank.
Decap is on fine form, and of course, Tom Hanks is as good as ever, but what makes this such a joy is the way they work so well together; it’s almost like watching Rock Hudson and Doris Day. It goes without saying that Christopher Walken as down-on-his-luck Frank Sr. is great to watch – that man is truly a highlight in any film he’s in.

Another standout is John Williams' beautiful jazzy score; a departure for both Williams and Spielberg which really compliments the light and breezy feel that much of the film is saturated in. The stylish animation and jazzy music that form the opening credits are wonderful and really highlight that this is a change or tone for the director, falling somewhere in between the crowd-pleasers and the Oscar-baiting 'serious' ones.

It may be just a touch too long, but this can be forgiven when it’s so much fun to watch.

Score: 7/10

There's a lot of love out there for Catch Me If You Can, as evidenced by this review from Mark at Empire and this one from Stephen at the New York Times.