Catch the Fair One: when "girl in a basement" movies get it right

I just watched Catch the Fair One, which I didn’t know was a “girl in a basement” movie before I watched it. But I would argue it is for reasons that will be apparent if you watch it. The twist seems to be that this girl in a basement is really fit, but to what end?

I like some “girl in a basement” movies. Hounds of Love, Split, and Alone come to mind, mostly because I appreciate the craft and the actors. Emma Booth in Hounds of Love, James McAvoy in Split, and both Jules Wilcox and Marc Menchaca in Alone. But most movies in the genre feel like crassly contrived appeals to our feelings about the vulnerability of women. Most are just cheap and exploitative.

So what I immediately like about Catch the Fair One is that it’s not at all a “girl in the basement” movie when you first start watching it. Instead, it’s about a female boxer looking out for her little sister. Where it goes I’ll leave you to discover, but “girl in a basement” is the genre on offer, even if some of the characters didn’t get the memo.

The real appeal of Catch the Fair One is Kali Reis, who is obviously a real life boxer. She co-wrote the script with director Josef Kubota Wladyka, and she plays the lead character. She’s not very expressive as an actor, but she doesn’t really need to be. She lets her physicality do a lot of the talking, while her beat-down demeanor fills in the backstory. She’s a fascinating lead character and the director knows it.

In the end, Catch the Fair One is more than just “girl in a basement”, so I admit it’s a cheat to bring it up as the premise. But it’s probably why I reacted as positively as I did. What I thought was going to be just another entry in one of my least favorite subgenres instead subverts it and leaves it bleeding and KO’ed in the dirt where it belongs.

-Tom

Heya, Tom! Thanks for the recommendation. I have a soft spot for more realistic (or at least less glamorous) takes on action movie plots. This isn’t Taken, and it’s not trying to be. If anything, it reminds me of Blue Ruin.

I really liked the look of the film. All the outdoor shots felt like they were filmed just before dawn or just after sundown, but the colors were still vivid. I’m glad they didn’t apply a heavy blue filter over everything. My favorite shot in the movie is (trying to be vague here) the confrontation between a father and his son in the driveway.

I don’t really want to spoil anything, but I’m really glad I gave it a watch. “Girl in a Basement” movies aren’t exactly my favorite, but this is totally worth a watch.