Romania | 2015 | Directed by Adrian Tofei
Logline: A deeply disturbed young man makes an unusual audition video in an effort to convince Anne Hathaway to act in his film.
With experience only as an actor, but many years of studying film history under his belt, this Eastern European filmmaker has decided to tackle the found footage genre head-on, taking the bull by the horns, and biting the bullet. His experimental feature blurs the lines of documentary and thriller, of reality and fantasy, of pipe dream and palpable nightmare, of social savvy and introverted delusion.
Adrian Tofei plays Adrian, a determined, albeit quietly desperate, man obsessed with the illusion of Anne Hathaway as a kind of altar, pedestal of Tinseltown. Cats are also one of his “things”, and at one point he casually admits to strangling them as an adolescent. But let’s get back to Anne. Anne and Adrian. He badly wants to impress her. Armed with a small consumer level camera Adrian rents a nearby pension (he lives with his mother, and there’s no way he’s going to be able to audition the substitute “Hathaways” with mother poking her nose in).
There are three women Adrian has selected, to be part of the process of luring Ms Hathaway. Local actors, obviously keen for the performance experience, the women have no idea of Adrian’s hidden agenda. Sonya (Sonia Teodoriu) is first up, and almost immediately butts heads with Adrian who tries to push her panic buttons.
Flory (Florentina Hariton) and Alexandra (Alexandrea Stroe) arrive more or less at the same time. Flory, who most closely resembles Hathaway, has her own flirty agenda, simply wanting to bed Adrian, whilst Alexandra is eventually forced into Final Girl mode. Adrian’s demands are simple: he wants the women to act as truthfully as possible, and in order to act truthfully, he must provide the necessary motivation: fear.
While Tofei injects a creepy sense of humour with his role, it is the naturalistic performances of the three women, especially Stroe, that give Be My Cat the dramatic gravitas, and keeps it so darkly fascinating, and genuinely unnerving.
Trying to get a handle on Be My Cat is difficult; docu-drama as meta-horror, or maybe that’s faux-snuff as mockumentary. It’s a curiously refreshing blur, but definitely a vehicle for Tofei to indulge his passion for method acting. As the deranged director, Tofei immersed himself utterly into the character, only allowing filming decisions to be made as the obsessive director, not as Tofei. The result makes for a compelling, disquieting, resonant, and unique experience. It’s an existential nightmare, pushing the envelope of conventional found footage, but keeping in mind the grounded “authenticity” and creative inspiration and execution of The Blair Witch Project.