Catch the Fair One (dir. Josef Kubota Wladyka): Critic of the Philadelphia Film Festival
I love boxing and love boxing movies so I knew I couldn’t miss a movie starring and co-written by boxer Kali Reis. Catch the beautiful isn’t a boxing movie, however, but it does to imply boxing, which is enough for me. Reis plays Kaylee, a veteran whose sister was drawn into the world of sex trafficking. Kaylee, who struggles to stay sober while working to mend her relationship with her family, has also been training for the fight of her life. No, she is not returning to the ring, but she is considering entering the world of undercover sex slavery as a victim to try to get her sister back.
What follows is a particularly brutal tale which, to borrow a boxing metaphor, never stands out. It is a difficult material that uses a base. Taken shell to explore a world where members of certain populations are not only targeted by criminals, but ignored by society. In real criminal circles we refer to the ‘less dead’, a term used to describe what we see so often in the news: a missing / deceased woman of color gets much less media / law enforcement attention. order than a white woman. In the case of Catch the beauty, Kaylee and her sister are indigenous – a trait that is desired by many would-be abusers, but which also makes a victim much more likely to become a statistic rather than being seen as a person. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s all too common.
It’s when the movie finds its niche as an action flick that it has the most propulsive narrative push, but the action is worthless if you don’t care about the people involved. History takes a long time to make sure we really care. Kaylee isn’t John Wick either. She has skill and strength, but she’s far from invincible, which, added to the fact that her targets are the worst humanity has to offer, makes her a compelling action with serious weight.
The supporting cast is quite unique in that it represents multiple different lifestyles / races / sexualities / genders without making any of these factors the primary descriptor for any of them. They are people, not tokens. As a result, the entire cast feel like real people torn from the real world – which makes the horrors we witness all the more overwhelming.
This is easily the highest level my adrenaline pumped during PFF30, which says a lot about a festival that brought Sadness, Captain Volkonovog escaped, and The novice. I like when a project resulting from a real artistic passion hits its target, and it is absolutely the case here.
As part of the Philadelphia Film Festival, from October 20 to 30, 2021; filmadelphia.org/festival