The enjoyably nasty satire “Catfight” doesn’t pull its punches, literally or figuratively. The blows between two former friends land with the type of force — and sound effects — usually associated with action movies. Similarly, the film itself doesn’t hold back in attacking a wide range of targets with its sharp wit.
When college friends Veronica (Sandra Oh) and Ashley (Anne Heche) meet at a New York party, old and new issues quickly put them at odds after decades apart. Soon, they aren’t just sparring verbally; they’re beating each other to a bloody pulp, changing both of their lives in just a few moments.
Oh and Heche are great here, giving performances entirely lacking in vanity and self-consciousness. They aren’t afraid to get ugly, both in their treatment of everyone around them as well as in their post-brawl bruises, which makes them that much funnier.
Written and directed by Onur Tukel, “Catfight” swings a bit too wildly and could be more focused in its satire. It takes aim at mommy culture, talk shows, contemporary art, female rivalries, class issues, war, healthcare and more. Even at just 96 minutes, it starts to feel repetitive in its cycle of violence, but it’s still funny in its final moments.
“Catfight” is the type of blackly comic film that works to alienate some viewers with its over-the-top approach and its unlikable characters. But those who enjoy its dark humor will cackle with mean-spirited delight.
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Playing: The Cinefamily, Silent Movie Theatre, Hollywood; Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood