Saturday, 7 July 2018

Catch Me if You Can

This is an older film now which I saw years ago but thought I'd revisit. It was released in 2002 and is the true story of the life of schoolboy Frank Abagnale Jr. living in the USA in the 1960's as he decides to grasp life by the throat following the sad demise of his family amongst divorce and debt.

He runs away from home and makes the most of loopholes in various establishments and procedures by ripping everyone around him off for cash. In the process of becoming the architypal confidence trickster he poses as an airline pilot, teacher, secret service agent, doctor and lawyer and pretty much gets away with each one! For a time. Eventually, the situation draws the attention of the FBI Fraud Department and he's hounded across the nation and beyond.

The central role is played by Leonardo DiCaprio who grasps it in largely comic fashion and is pretty convincing. I sometimes think he's a great actor but other times, I'm not so sure. Here, he does this well, particularly in the early stages of the film as he negotiates his place and way amongst the family dynamics and problems often not understanding what's going on. FBI agent, Carl Hanratty is portrayed by Tom Hanks who, as always, plays the ordinary bloke so well. In this case, the drab and boring agent with little personality or sense of humour, highlighted in his daily dealings with his colleagues, but doggedly hounding his man.

As time goes on, the story also becomes a sad portrait of the father/son relationship as son tries so hard to repair the broken family. The pride in downfall, the embarrassed silence surrounding the facts between them. The deep love that they share which can't seem to surface. Christopher Walken plays dad and, as usual, is a delight to watch. He's a tremendous actor and although not the one with the lion's share of screentime here, for me, steals the show. And that takes some doing with Hanks around.

It's a thoroughly absorbing film in which the time flies. It's excellently staged with wonderful attention to detail in the sets from the era creating a real atmosphere, nicely directed by Steven Spielberg and is highly recommended. I saw it on BBC2 last weekend, but it's widely available.

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