AFF Review: The Catch

Chilly seafront drug heist drama finds a family in crisis

Anchored by strong performances and a muted palette of blues and grays, this melancholic drama, set in a working class Northeastern fishing town, begins with wayward Beth (Katia Winter) returning to her family home after a five year absence.

She’s on the run from her past, shown in cryptic and brief flashbacks. Her relationship with her father, taciturn Tom (Bill Sage), is strained to say the least, and her abrupt arrival reveals past wounds that have never healed. Beth’s mother passed away from cancer, and Tom subsequently married Lily (Emy Coligado), a nurse in the hospital where she died. Tom and his son are lobstermen, eking out a living from the sea, but someone is poaching their traps. One evening, Beth, hanging out with her brother, sees a drug drop go down in the bay, and the wheels start turning to snatch the illicit haul and keep running. She reconnects with her ex-boyfriend, Dickey (James McMenamin), who works for the drug dealer, and they hatch a plan to heist the drugs. As things inevitably unravel, poor decisions are made.

This conventional setup belies the care and craft that writer/director Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer unfolds the proceedings. As he slowly reveals the various dynamics between and motivations of his characters, The Catch lures us deeper into investing our sympathies. Sage and Winter both nail the dance of estrangement between father and daughter, his rigid stoicism versus her fear and resentment. Lily tells Beth at one point, “you learn the lesson now, or life is just going to teach it to you again.” And for Beth, that lesson is going to keep getting harder.

The Catch

Narrative Features, U.S. Premiere
Screening links available until Oct. 29 at

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Austin Film Festival, Austin Film Festival 2020, The Catch, Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer, Katia Winter, Bill Sage, Kyle Gallner, James McMenamin, Jere Burns, Emy Coligado

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