Rating: 12A Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Amy Adams, Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen Directed by Steven Spielberg Written by Jeff Nathanson Length: 141mins
Now that we’re into December, I’m sure many of you will be revisiting Christmas movie lists, thinking about what you might want to watch over the coming weeks. There are of course the obvious choices, with films such as ‘Love, Actually’ and ‘Home Alone’ topping such lists, but sometimes it’s the Christmas films that are a little more subtle in their inclusion of the holiday season that get forgotten about. Steven Spielberg’s 2002 release, ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ is one such film, with the seasonal influence coming from the repeating idea that Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks’ characters always cross paths on Christmas eve during their continued game of cat and mouse.
Based on real events, ‘Catch Me If You Can’ follows the criminal accomplishments of Frank Abagnale Jr, a highly successful con man who had stolen millions of dollars worth of checks before he was even nineteen. Originally working a scheme under the pretence of being a Pan Am pilot, the tactics he used to con businesses only became more elaborate as he grew older, and were fuelled further by the pursuit of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Hanks).
Steven Spielberg is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors to have ever lived, particularly in relation to his ability to turn out high-quality blockbusters year after year, having done so since the release of ‘Jaws’ in 1970, a film that is generally considered to have been one of the first blockbusters ever. He’s continued with such success all the way up to cinema hits like ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ in 2011. Despite this, sometimes it’s easy to forget just how easy Spielberg makes bringing a great film together look. In ‘Catch Me If You Can’ every element of the film comes together so seamlessly that you can’t help but be drawn into the story – a practice that is found throughout Spielberg’s filmography.
With Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks leading the film, the acting is never anything less than exceptional. They both seem to be at the top of their game here, and DiCaprio in particular delivers an extremely versatile and charming performance, excellently showing the chameleon-like nature of his character. Hanks provides a level of humanity to his character that compliments the extravagance of DiCaprio excellently, and creates a dynamic between them that can range from being full of tension to extremely heartfelt. The relationship created by Spielberg is one that is full of charm, and leads the audience to wish for nothing but a happy ending.
Janusz Kaminski, the cinematographer for the film, provides smooth and precise camerawork which allows the visual storytelling to keep up with the fast and frequently changing story of ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ On top of this though, the camera seems to know exactly when it should and shouldn’t draw attention to itself, with great moments of the film being allowed to play out without the audience being drawn to the cinematography rather than the story. Of course, visually stunning films are always impressive, but Spielberg is a director who truly seems to want to tell stories in their purest form, and by working with a cinematographer who knows exactly when the camera should present itself, this is achieved brilliantly.
All in all, I would highly recommend ‘Catch Me If You Can’ at any time of year, but it works especially well as a great starting point for the holiday season, with the Christmas themes remaining understated enough for it to not be overwhelmingly festive, but apparent enough that you can starting getting into the Christmas spirit.