Movie review

Catch Me If You Can
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks,
Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen

Director : Steven Spielberg

Catch Me If You CanBilled as a 'transcontinental game of cat and mouse' between a young con-artist and an FBI detective, and based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can is a highly watchable and thoroughly enjoyable experience. The story follows the almost unbelievable adventures of a runaway teenager who quickly becomes the youngest person ever to be wanted by the FBI, as his remarkable ability to forge cheques and dupe bank clerks quickly evolves from a five dollar scam to an international multi-million dollar fraud network.

Leaving home at the tender age of 16, unable to cope with his parents impending divorce, Frank W Abagnale, (Leonardo DiCaprio) soon finds that through a combination of charm, swagger, persistence and a good deal of luck, he is able to become just about anything he wants to. And so he does. From a doctor to a co-pilot for a major airline, and even a lawyer, Frank finds that the world is his for the taking (as are numerous enamoured young flight attendants) and that most doors can be opened with a degree of subtle deception and ample amounts of charisma
    Life as a con man appears surprisingly easy for Frank, which can be partly attributed to living in the naive, trusting and optimistic culture of 1960s America where pretty much everywhere seemed to still maintain a 'small town' feel. And if it wasn't for the fact that the story is based on true events we'd find it hard to suspend our disbelief at some of the extraordinary antics of this otherwise ordinary, unqualified teenager.

Despite the fast paced, roller coaster ride of an adventure that early trailers promised us, what Spielberg delivers is a slow, deliberate and carefully crafted film which outstrips initial expectations, and at times is profoundly moving and deeply touching. Spielberg uses a fine cast to bring Abagnale's autobiography lovingly and faithfully to the screen. It is clear that the director is enwrapped in the story he is telling, and after having met Abagnale in real life, there is great empathy and authenticity surrounding DiCaprio's character, who could easily have come across as being cold, cynical and detached as we watch him string along a host of unsuspecting characters, from bank tellers to the woman he intends to marry.
    What is also clear is that Spielberg's ongoing theme of the fatherhood and the effects of broken families finds a definitive and poignant voice through the course of the film. He lingers quietly on the subtle moments shared between Frank's parents, as they dance together at the start of the film, and returns to this motif later through Frank's eyes as he watches his fiancée's parents dance at the kitchen sink, reminding us of his vulnerability, and deep longing to be part of a loving family again.

DeCaprio gives a tremendous performance and fits the role perfectly, managing to pull off the cocky con artist effectively, whilst maintaining the vulnerable aspects of a lost teenager convincingly throughout. Tom Hanks is a joy to watch as the clever, kind hearted and unassuming detective, and Christopher Walken gives a heart rending portrayal of Frank's father, coming to terms with loosing his wife and his son.
    Following his recent success with A.I. and Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can is a fascinating story, told through a nostalgic lens with a simple, traditional approach, which reinforces Spielberg's position as a master storyteller and one of the most gifted directors of his generation.

:: Tom West

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