Catch Me If You Can
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Catch Me If You Can Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
This is the second movie of 2002 for Spielberg, DiCaprio and Hanks, and it represents a wonderful type-shift for all of them. It's also one of the most brightly entertaining films of the year. The true story centres on notorious conman Frank Abagnale Jr (DiCaprio), who at age 16 runs away from home when his parents (Walken and Baye, both fantastic) separate. In the next few years, he becomes an expert at cheque forgery and fraudulently works as a pilot, doctor and lawyer, all while the meticulous FBI agent Hanratty (Hanks) doggedly pursues him around the country.

The surprise here is the film's fresh and jazzy tone (augmented by one of John Williams' most interesting scores). Spielberg has never done anything like this; while it still has his trademarks--an assured point of view, technical genius, strong character focus--but it's also drenched in a newfound playfulness. This sense of fun permeates the performances, which still manage to have an edge of maturity and introspection to them. DiCaprio gives an energetic yet measured turn as a young man acting out every schoolboy fantasy, enjoying the high life and trying to ignore his demons. Hanks is superb as the grumpy workaholic, fed up with the silly antics of everyone around him. His personal life is even more frustrating than his professional one, yet he somehow keeps it all in perspective. As the film progresses it feels almost effortless in its brisk pacing and colourful design. The themes are refreshingly subtle, even though Spielberg knows how to punch all the right buttons to make sure we don't miss the point. With its extended epilogue, the film feels about a half-hour too long, but the story is so good and there are so many fabulous set pieces that you can't imagine leaving anything out.

cert 12 themes, language, brief grisliness 6.Jan.03

dir Steven Spielberg
scr Jeff Nathanson
with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Nathalie Baye, Martin Sheen, James Brolin, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner, Frank John Hughes, Brian Howe, Chris Ellis, Steve Eastin
release US 25.Dec.02; UK 31.Jan.03
02/US 2h20

On the run. Frank (DiCaprio) works on his forging technique...

dicaprio hanks walken
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send your review to Shadows... "Another movie with a lot of hype - but I feel this one won't disappoint. It is based on a true story of a con-man who does it out of desperation. His his father costs them their home, then the marraige breaks up, so a 17-year-old runs away from home. He learns quickly that he has a knack for fooling people, then realizes he can forge checks. This is a good movie - well done - you laugh and are amazed that one person has the nerve to carry off impersonating a doctor, a pilot - and the way he eludes the FBI at the airport is hilarious. This is one movie you need to see." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 5.Jan.03 shadows

"I loved it - loved the story, loved the acting (especially Christopher Walken), and LOVED DiCaprio. I've liked him in some of his pictures, but I had a hard time with him in others (such as Titanic). And after seeing Gangs of New York, I realized why I liked him so much in this one. In Gangs I felt like he was this kid trying to be an actor, trying to 'become' his character, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but fooling a lot of the people most of the time. And then I realized how brilliantly cast he was in Catch Me, because that's exactly what his character is in this film!" --IndigoJen, Los Angeles 27.Jan.03

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall