Sometime the conventions of fiction can blind us to the fact that there are at least as many stories as there are people in the world. However, upon viewing them presented as fiction we can become obsessed with how realistic it seems. That’s not to say that The Amazing Catfish is the most unique tale in the world, but it does have its quirks.
The Amazing Catfish concerns itself with the lives of a young woman who had an appendectomy and a mother fighting AIDS intertwining. However, the film begins with following the life of Claudia (Ximena Ayala) for about the first ten minutes. We only meet Martha (Lisa Owen) and her family when in the hospital. After her procedure Martha, and her family offer Claudia a ride and a meal. She tries to conceal herself and tries to pry herself away but Martha’s clan persists in being in her life and she then seeks chances to be there as well away from her apartment, her job and reality as she had known it.
There is a subdued nature to the film that allows these events, as unorthodox as they may be, to flow naturally, eventually the language of the tale starts to seep in such that you begin to connect and speak it rather than it translating itself to you.
This subdued nature makes the flow of the tale an odd one as well but not a disagreeable or slow one just one that’s bit out of the ordinary. Perhaps it has a bit to do with the fact that Claudia is still sorting out her past, and Martha is dealing with her future (or rather her family’s) and both are ever-stuck in the present whether they like it or not. As such the flow is not unnatural but proper just and unusual one.
As circumstances make for the makeshift creation of a new family dynamic each of the members must deal with how they feel they fit in the new arrangement and assert themselves. This allows for each of the actors to have their moments. Sonia Franco, Wendy Guillén, Andrea Baeza and Alejandro Ramírez-Muñoz each work such that they all feel like real-life siblings and very naturally embody very different personalities and the roles they play in the family.
While this film doesn’t quite earn the ending it seems to seek it does work in structural, mechanical terms but just may not connect in the visceral way it may be seeking as the final act progresses.