Anne Heche and Alicia Silverstone play gay in the hilarious “Catfight”


So, a much-needed shout-out needs to go to my editor, Trish Bendix. Why? Because without her, I would’ve completely forgotten to check out Catfight at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Really, I’ve wondered, how could that even be possible? I’ve read every press release that’s come my way, been in touch with multiple press teams and have even asked my own personal network what movies at TIFF they know of with queer women in them. There was no mention of Catfight.

When exactly did I drop the ball? Apparently all the way back in late December, when the Catfight team was doing their PR blitz and made it a point to say Anne Heche and Alicia Silverstone play lovers in this new dark comedy. But since then, they haven’t been selling the film in that way. Weirdly, the movie wasn’t even tagged as being of LGBTQ interest on the TIFF website. I don’t know who made these various calls, but I can tell you this film is definitely of our interest. 

For goodness’ sake, the movie stars Anne Heche as a lesbian. After all this time and everything that happened, that alone has to put this film on our radar. And then there’s her co-star, Sandra Oh. From playing lesbian characters in Under the Tuscan Sun and Tammy to her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy (because, let’s face it, that “my person” stuff was so gay), Sandra has more than earned our appreciation. When you add to that former teen idol Alicia Silverstone playing queer, how can you not be intrigued?

Caution: Mild spoilers ahead.

So the name, Catfight? Yeah, that’s really underplaying it. We’re talking three epic, bloody fight scenes between Anne and Sandra that at times don’t seem humanly possible. I mean, the endurance they show is just wow. And the stubbornness. Of course, none of this is without consequence.


But why the fighting anyway? Well you see, at the film’s beginning both women are juggling the negative and positive aspects of their lives, much like we all do (although, not quite), and when their paths collide, their pasts and presents provide a perfect outlet for their anger.

A bit about the characters. Sandra’s character, Veronica, is a rich housewife with a bit of a drinking problem whose husband is getting fed up with her. She also has a son who she’s trying to dissuade from pursuing an art career because the only artist she ever knew never made much of her life. Ashley (Heche), on the other hand, has a much better relationship with her girlfriend, Lisa (Silverstone), but her art is just not selling, largely because it’s considered “insane”.

While Ashley thinks it’s perfectly okay to have Lisa support them until her art career takes off (her justification is that Lisa’s the more masculine one because she straps on the dildo), Lisa instead puts her to work by dragging her along to a catering gig. The event? A private New York City cocktail party celebrating Veronica’s husband and his company for landing a big military contract. You better believe Veronica came along.

And just who does she spot when she goes to fetch herself some more wine? Ashley. It’d be no big deal if not for the fact that Ashley was her old college friend and when she found out she was gay, “That’s when I stopped hanging out with you.” Ouch. She then, of course, backtracks, saying that’s not why she stopped coming around, only to then admit “I had to make that call.”

Veronica might just be more than a little ticked off after Ashley “confused” her husband and his business partner for being gay because “They were acting so gay.” In her defense, they were.

So these two aren’t making up. Veronica, off to Soho you go. Ashley, grab Lisa and head on back to Bushwick. Simple, right? Except there was a stairwell. If Grey’s Anatomy has taught me anything it’s that serious things happen in stairwells.

After Veronica’s husband tells her to go home after she’s had a few too many for his liking, she finds Ashley having a smoke in the stairwell she tries to use. They exchange a couple of words before it escalates and Ashley finishes by saying she feels sorry for Veronica’s kid. Man, you never talk about kids. As a result, Veronica lands one hard punch straight to the face.

And then they go at it, and it’s absolutely crazy. They just won’t quit. But Veronica actually does the worst damage to herself. When she pulls out her compact mirror and looks at herself, she faints and falls backward onto the stairs, ultimately falling into a coma.

Which she wakes up from two years later. To then find out that her husband died in an accident, her son died in the war, and all her assets were sold to pay for her medical expenses. Oh, and she has to leave the hospital like pretty much right now.

What became of Ashley during those two years? Well, it turns out her art is now a big seller during these “grim times” of war. She’s making more money than she could ever imagine and the praise just keeps falling down on her. Things are going so well that she and Lisa decide to have a baby together, which Ashley will carry because Lisa can’t. And, yes, we get a home insemination scene. Also, a weird, slightly pervy lesbian doctor.

Mind you, it’s kind of hard to be happy for Ashley when she’s being an asshole to her assistant, Sally (Ariel Kavoussi), and just acting like an entitled shit in general. Lisa’s less likable now too, especially during her pretentious episode at the baby shower (admittedly, it was funny). Wi-Fi is apparently bad for babies and even 10 percent polyester just won’t do. Oh, and she’s convinced they have to repaint their walls because “miscarriage red” isn’t a good vibe to be putting out there, including in front of the fake baby she’s been carrying around in preparation for the real thing.

Suffice it to say, her whole hysterical act isn’t going down well with Ashley, who is a pessimist by nature. She lets her know about it at maybe not the best time, because she ends up going to her new exhibition without a date. But she’ll soon see an old familiar face anyway.

You see, Veronica’s been working as a hotel maid and during one particular room cleaning she spotted Ashley on the cover of an art magazine and found out about her newfound fame. Ready to give her a piece of her mind, she goes to the exhibition, only to see a new painting inspired by her. She then proceeds to lose her shit. She trashes a bunch of Ashley’s art and takes off with that painting. A pregnant Ashley follows after her.

Another epic fight commences and at no point does Ashley tell Veronica she’s pregnant. I think she may have forgotten, judging by the way she goes at Veronica hard. Like this is a hammer versus a wrench levels of extreme. And Veronica gives as good as she gets, but it’s the concrete block that falls on Ashley’s head that really gets her.

Now, guess what happens next? Yup, Ashley wakes up from a coma two years later, in the same hospital, having been treated by the same doctor and nurse. To cover her hospital expenses, Lisa sold all her art. Where’s Lisa? Gone. But the biggest blow? She lost the baby.

Surely being a talented and once famous artist, she can pick herself back up, right? Well, Sally, who is now herself a famed artist, gives her a shot as her assistant, but Ashley’s hands have the shakes and she can’t even draw a straight line. To make matters worse, one day outside of the studio she runs into Lisa…and her baby. “I met someone,” she says. “He’s nice.”

Well, what the hell does she have to lose now? Knowing she can find Veronica at her aunt’s cabin, she heads up there for one last battle. Now that they’ve both been in a coma and their lives have been completely devastated, what’s really left other than a fight to the death? So, you think they’re gonna do it?

Catfight is absurd, but it’s pretty damn hilarious. Anne and Sandra are great in it, although Alicia’s character could’ve been developed some more. By the way, Ashley and Lisa do kiss multiple times and are pretty affectionate overall, but it would’ve been nice to see some of that same passion applied to the fight scenes used to reflect the passion in their relationship. And while I thought the film’s ending was a bit anti-climatic, I did enjoy the political commentary that was spread throughout. Overall, despite some initial concerns about what a film with such a title could entail, I think writer-director Onur Tukel did a really good job with it.

Visit Catfight’s Facebook page for news of future screening dates.

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