In her proficiency class, Emma was asked to write a review of a film she had seen recently. This is what she thinks of Catch Me if You Can.
Based on true events, Leonardo Dicaprio plays Frank Abagnale Jr, one of the 1960’s most legendary con artists. Before reaching his 21st birthday, Frank Jr had been employed as a doctor, lawyer and as a co-pilot for the major airline company Pan Am. Not only being a master of deception, Frank is also a brilliant forger, whose skill at check fraud has netted him millions of dollors in stolen funds.
Opening with his home life, Frank Jr seems to have a happy middle-class life with his parent, who both adore him. Harmless as it may seem, Frank Abagnale Sr, relies on using an angle to get what he wants. With a little con here and there, his father had no idea that Frank Jr would take the lessons to heart. In high school, Frank Jr showed up and began pretending to be his French substitute teacher…..for a week. However, it all changes when his mother if filing for a divorce from his father, when finding out that he is in trouble with the IRS. If that was not though enough for Frank Jr, he now has to choose which parent he wants to live with, which he can not do. Instead he runs away to New York. Like a child, he thinks he can recreate the perfect world he once thought he had.
While in New York, at the age of 16, Frank is hoping to make a good life for himself. Instead, he begins to use his con artist skills to make money; with some bad check writing, and then graduates to forging checks. His scams escalates when he decides to begin impersonating a Pan Am co-pilot. Not only does he start forging Pan Am paychecks, he even starts hitching rides on other airlines for free. The cons and deceptions continue to get more elaborate with him impersonating a doctor, a lawyer, and writing fake checks for millions of dollars.
However, it does not take the FBI long to get wise of him. Catching Frank Jr, though, is another matter entirely. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) has made it his prime mission to capture him and bring him to justice. However, Frank Jr is always one step ahead, cunningly he winds away from the traps that Agent Hanratty lays out. This begins a cat-and-mouse chase. While the two rarely share screen time, their relationship, once almost friendly with admiration (Hanratty for Abagnale’s skills as a con artist, and the latter for Hanratty’s normal life), is one that is very convincingly portrayed.
Despite his handsome features, Di Caprio brings a real sense of like-ability to Abagnate Jr. Having to play a teenager, whom is finding his way in the world, he brings out the very un-childlike quality in his character, an astoning eye for detail. Combined with the charm and the ability to appear innocent to give Frank Abagnate Jr apparent credibility and – just as important – youthful fearless (he just does not know how outrageous his scams are).
Thanks to Spielberg’s brilliant direction, the 141 minutes rarely flag and your constant worry of Abagnate Jr getting caught, makes the film (about the youngest person ever to make the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List) terrifically entertaining. You do not even want to pause the film for refilling your bowl of popcorn! This is the 1960s of big hair, smooth surfaces, and bikinis, filled with music like Sinatara’s “Come Fly with Me”. Every single element of this film works brilliantly together and the result is as irrestible as its con man hero.
By Emma Gidlund