Catch Me If You Can [Blu-Ray]
Director : Steven Spielberg
Screenplay : Jeff Nathanson (based on the book by Frank W. Abagnale with Stan Redding)
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 2002
Stars : Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank Abagnale Jr.), Tom Hanks (Carl Hanratty), Christopher Walken (Frank Abagnale), Martin Sheen (Roger Strong), Nathalie Baye (Paula Abagnale), Amy Adams (Brenda Strong), James Brolin (Jack Barnes), Frank John Hughes (Earl Amdursky), Brian Howe (Tom Fox)
Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can tells the you-wouldn’t-believe-it-if-it-weren’t-true tale of one Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., who, at the age of 16, dropped out of high school, ran away from home, and took control of his life by developing into a masterful con artist and “paperhanger,” spending the next three years successfully impersonating a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, all the while staying just a few steps ahead of the F.B.I. and forging millions of dollars of checks in the process. On any level, this is an extraordinary story, one that would be brushed off as “implausible” or “ridiculous” if it hadn’t really happened. Of course, the fact that this all took place in the late 1960s when such crimes were new helped Abagnale. In many ways, he invented (or at least perfected) a new form of criminality.
Frank is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who at that stage of his career was one of the few actors who could portray a teenager playacting an adult. At any given moment, DiCaprio looks like a kid or a seasoned professional, suggesting that the age one appears has less to do with physical appearance than with demeanor and attitude. Frank gets away with his scams because he has confidence. He simply exudes the security that he is who he says he is, which allows him to fool the head of a hospital, a bank president, even the F.B.I. agent who, at one point, has him cornered in a hotel room.
The agent hot on his trail is Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks, in the second of his three collaborations with Spielberg), a button-down whiz in the nascent check-forging crime unit of the F.B.I. Hanks has a good deal of fun with the role, playing Hanratty as an introverted but determined professional, one who doesn’t get along too well with other people (his unexpectedly short “knock-knock” joke is the funniest bit in the movie and one of the funniest bits in any movie that year), but knows what his job is and won’t let anything get between him and his man. Taking on a thick “Bah-stan” accent that verges on the edge of parody, Hanks is part comical foil, part hero to Frank’s undeniably appealing anti-hero.
Of course, because this is Frank’s story, he is the center of attention. The best thing DiCaprio does in playing Frank is to convince us from the get-go that he can pull all this off—he embodies the kind of effortless chutzpah that would be required for such preposterous ruses. Just looking at him, we think there’s no way he can fool all these people, but he does—again and again. Part of the conviction also comes from Spielberg’s smooth, assured filmmaking, which takes us inside and puts us in Frank’s shoes as he walks down a line of bank tellers looking for the most naive and easily flattered to work on, or shows us the somewhat crude, but remarkably persuasive techniques by which he forged checks (at first he simply uses decals from a Pan Am model plane to give an otherwise ordinary check the look of corporate authenticity).
Screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (who would go on to write The Terminal and the fourth Indiana Jones film for Spielberg) softens Frank’s character and puts him more in line with other Spielbergian protagonists by elaborating on his family backstory, thus giving him a sympathetic motivation for this criminality. While the real Frank Abagnale has said that he did it mostly for money, power, and women, Catch Me If You Can’s Frank just wants to put his family back together. His father (Christopher Walken), a good-hearted small-time businessman with seemingly endless I.R.S. troubles, is left by Frank’s mother (Nathalie Baye) for another man. It is this marital and familial betrayal that causes Frank to run away in the first place, as he would rather take off on his own than be forced to choose which parent to live with. Throughout the film, he meets up with his father, full of hope that his parents will reconcile and all the money he is stealing will help reunite them (early on they have to sell their house and most of their possessions to pay off the government). The fact that it is never made clear whether Frank’s father is guilty of tax evasion or other crimes works in the same way as Frank’s noble intentions to heal his family: It softens what would otherwise be a potentially disreputable character.
This is not to say, however, that Frank doesn’t have his corrupt moments. He may want to save his family, but he also clearly relishes the power of pulling the wool over other people’s eyes, not to mention all the material possessions (and women) his money buys him. One of the film’s greatest virtues is the way it traces his growing obsession with his own con game and the manner in which it eventually gets out of his control. When Carl corners Frank again in a printing press in France, the sheer number of forged checks that fly through the air create a perfectly staged visualization of Frank’s complete loss of control.
In the end, though, Catch Me If You Can is ultimately a movie about parental redemption. The core relationship turns out to be the one between pursuer and pursued, as Carl and Frank develop a long-distance admiration for one another that, against all odds, turns into a paternal friendship. This is underscored again by the family dimension (so crucial to any Spielberg film), as we find out that Carl has lost members of his own family, and he and Frank find that they fill in the gaps in each other’s lives. That this is done largely on a subtextual level is gratifying, as one the weaknesses on which Spielberg’s detractors love to harp is his tendency to overstate the sentimentally obvious. With this film, though, he appears to have let go, making a light, often comical crime caper with a lot of heart and, more importantly, subtlety, that is buoyed by John Williams’ bouncy, Henry Mancini-channeling score. It’s an entertaining ode to the power of persuasion, something a master filmmaker like Spielberg knows a thing or two about.
|Catch Me If You Can Blu-Ray|
|Subtitles||English, French, Spanish, Portuguese|
|Distributor||Paramount Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||December 4, 2012|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Catch Me If You Can looks fantastic in a new high-definition 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. One of Spielberg’s brightest and jazziest films, it features a bold array of bright, primary and pastel colors that become more and more intense as Frank’s exploits become more and more successful. From the loud orange of his Italian sweater at a party to the deep blues of his hijacked Pan Am pilot’s uniform, colors are spot on in terms of saturation and hue. Detail is crisp and sharp throughout, with great contrast in some of the darker interior scenes, especially near the beginning of the film. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel surround soundtrack is lively and effective, giving John Williams’ Henry Mancini-esque score just the right amount of bounce.|
|All of the supplements included on this Blu-Ray previously appeared on the 2003 two-disc Special Edition DVD and are presented in standard definition. “Catch Me If You Can: Behind the Camera” is a general overview of the film’s production featuring plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew (the most interesting parts involve the trendy ’60s production design and costumes). There is a featurette dedicated to John William’s jazzy score and five short featurettes about the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken and Nathalie Baye, Martin Sheen and Amy Adams, and Jennifer Garner. Given the fascinating nature of the “true life” material in the film, the disc also includes four short featurettes about the life and exploits of the real Frank Abagnale, Jr., as well as a featurette on “The FBI Perspective.” The disc is rounded out with the final featurette, “Catch Me If You Can: In Closing” and three photo galleries (cast, behind the scenes, and costume design).|
Copyright ©2012 James Kendrick
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