After seeing Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, obsessed, no-budget Romanian filmmaker, Adrian Țofei, decides he wants her in his next movie. Feeling that the only way he can convince her of the idea is by actually making the film with stand-ins for Anne, he begins shooting, with unfortunate results for the actresses.
The trope of psychotic-stalker-filming-his-crimes seems to be of endless fascination for low-budget filmmakers. The reasoning is understandable. Number one, psychotics are always fascinating, especially when there appears to be very little professional film making skill separating them from the viewer, making their actions seem more immediate; number two, the lure of guerrilla movie-making is appealing as a pretense of rebellion from the tyranny of money dictating the artist’s vision; and number three, it gets around the fact that there’s no money available to even enhance that vision; hence, no need for a cinematographer, no need for camera operators, gaffers, set designers, costume designers, production designers, make-up artists, editors, composers, effects artists, etc. And frequently, no need for anything beyond a bare staging script with basic description of where a scene is supposed to go; improv is king in such movies because it’s cheap in the digital age, and it used to be somewhat affectively hard-edged before everyone glommed onto the Blair Witch broom.
In the film Be My Cat: A Film for Anne, Adrian plays a cinematic, twist-up version of himself; instead of playing that young man with a dream fresh out of film school, he’s playing that young man with a nightmare fresh out of his mom’s attic. Think Norman Bates without the cross-dressing or the mommy-fixation. But, in place of Norman’s simmering anxiety, we have Adrian’s lip-smacking joviality; actually, he’s almost unbearably sweet and cuddly, which is a nice change; he makes you want to hang with him at the group home he should be living in and talk with him about “catts“ and “girrlls”, as he calls them in his best R. Crumb imitation. At the beginning of the film, he’s even kind enough to introduce the camera (i.e., Anne) to his yard; a nice, congenial touch.
After the quick opener, where he shows Anne the attic he wants to film her in, he moves on to pick up his first actress, Sonya (Sonia Teodoriu), in front of the “pension” (apparently a cheap Romanian apartment building) he’s staying in for purposes of discrete filming.
Things are smooth until he gives her an acting challenge a bit difficult to achieve; as if trying to hide from the audience the fact that there’s no script for this film, they literally begin to work out the structure of the scene in the typical meta-layering, film-within-a-film style which found footage movie makers seem so enamored with. In faux frustration, she breaks down and goes so far as to call the police on him. Eventually, she’s calmed and convinced to continue with the role, which ultimately winds up being a bad choice on her part.
Once he dispatches Sonya (don’t lie, you saw it coming a million miles away), he moves on to pick up the next actress, Flory (Florentina Hariton), who is made up to look remarkably similar to Anne Hathaway. Up front, she assumes it’s a casting couch situation calling for a little physical quid-pro-quo before she can actually get the part; so, she promptly offers herself up, but Adrian is stunned and assures her he’s looking for nothing of the kind; besides, she’s too fat, he says. At this point, they must have been running short on shooting time, because, instead of provoking Flory into fits of exasperation and taking his time finishing her off, the way he had done with Sonya, he promptly takes Flory along to pick up Alexandra (Alexandra Stroe), his third victim.
Clearly, Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is meant to be nothing more than a showcase for the slightly off-kilter sensibilities of the filmmaker and the acting talent in front of the camera, because there really is nothing else to it. Like all found footage movies, no technical expertise beyond the acting is displayed. As said before, with this type of film, there are no production values because there’s no crew. However, the actors pull off most scenes extremely well, even though none of the cast has any real experience in the profession. This was simply a vehicle to get their names out there and gain some exposure; and judging from the attention it’s gotten, it seems as though they’ve exposed themselves quite a bit.