Director: Susanna Fogel
Writer: Michelle Ashford, based on the short story by Kristen Roupenian
Producer: Helen Estabrook, Jeremy Steckler
Starring: Emilia Jones, Nicholas Braun, Geraldine Viswanathan, Isabella Rosellini, Liza Koshy
Genre: Mystery and Thriller, Drama, Romance
Running Time: 2h 0m
Age restriction: PG-13 (Some Strong Language)
Susanna Fogel directs Cat Person, a new genre-bending techy thriller about the horrors of modern dating, adapted by Michelle Ashford from the New Yorker’s trending short story by Kristen Roupenian.
When Margot, a college sophomore (CODA’s Emilia Jones) goes on a date with the older Robert (Nicholas Braun from SUCCESSION and ZOLA), she finds that IRL Robert doesn’t quite live up to the guy she has been flirting with over texts.
The film is a razor-sharp deep dive into the gender divide that thrives online, the hassle of navigating modern dating and the dangerous projections we make about the person at the other end of our phones.
What is Cat Person about?
Back in 2017, The New Yorker published Kristen Roupenian’s short story of a nightmare relationship which instantly went viral. That’s where the world first met Margot and Robert and stepped into an unhinged story about a rollercoaster relationship between an unlikely 20-year-old girl and a 30-something man.
Cat Person was then printed as a book and producer Jeremy Steckler immediately saw movie potential in the story. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in 2023 and locked in a 26 October release in South Africa by Empire Entertainment.
‘Cat Person is not a film about assault; it’s a film about subtler toxic dynamics between the genders that are in fact, far more pervasive,’ notes director Susanna Fogel. ‘The devil is in the nuances of Margot and Robert’s interactions by design. Small-scale aggressions, intimidations, and retaliations between the genders hide in plain sight all the time, and they are the point of this film, even when the characters find themselves literally fighting for their lives. I hope like the short story, Cat Person the movie sparks vigorous debate as it inspires us all to turn a lens on our own feelings about power and intimacy.’
The gender divide that lives online also comes to the fore. Fogel says that ‘so many men today feel like they are suddenly being unfairly vilified and punished for the mistakes of the worst actors among them. What often results is an anger, confusion, and resentment which perpetuates bad behaviour. I hope that just as women relate to Margot’s fears and flaws, male audiences who consider themselves good guys and male allies will quietly relate to aspects of Robert because his behaviour is not overtly villainous. After all, Robert believes he’s a good person too.’
Who stars in Cat Person?
British actress Emilia Jones takes centre stage as the steely Margot in the movie. ‘Emilia has this ability to disappear into a role and when you meet her and talk to her she’s a pretty, charming girl who is really charismatic and really confident and outgoing and I loved dialling her back into being a kind of regular girl,’ explains Susanna Fogel.
Producer Jeremy Steckler admits that choosing to cast Succession’s Nicholas Braun as Robert was challenging. ‘Robert was a hard role to cast because you want someone who is not Tom Cruise and you want someone who is appealing to women, just not so appealing that everything comes super easy to him,’ says Steckler
Rounding out the cast of this twisty rom-com meets thriller are Australian actress Geraldine Viswanathan, Hope Davis, and the iconic icon Isabella Rossellini among others.