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Catch Me If You Can

The true story of a real fake. 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Steven Spielberg 
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken  
An image from Catch Me If You Can

There’s a scene early on in Catch Me If You Can where Frank Abagnale Jr. (DiCaprio) finds a novel way of teaching a lesson to the kids at his new school who see fit to bully him. The scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, and is the prelude for a tale full of lies, deception, and good old-fashioned Hollywood fun.

While most 21 year olds are revising for finals or taking in the latest episode of Bargain Hunt, by the time he had reached the same age Frank Jr. had accomplished just a little bit more. After his parents’ divorce, he decides to run away from home, armed with nothing more than a gift of the gab and a bank chequebook given to him on his 16th birthday by his father, Frank Sr. (Walken) After realising just how respected airline pilots seem to be, Frank Jr. embarks on his own form of graduate training programme - a programme that sees him not just posing as a PanAm pilot, but also as a doctor and a lawyer. Along the way he becomes an expert at forging cheques - so much so that he manages to “earn” millions of dollars - and finds himself being pursued by Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), an FBI agent intent on catching one of the most gifted con-artists he’s ever seen.

Spielberg’s film is remarkably successful at creating a relationship between the DiCaprio and Hanks' characters, despite the fact that the two share a minimal number of scenes. Both are in top form in their respective roles, although as “babyface” as DiCaprio is, there’s a point where you might start thinking he’s looking just a tad old for a supposed 17-year-old. But it’s the type of role in which he’s incredibly comfortable. Like him or loathe him, there aren’t many actors who can (literally) charm the pants off women in the way Frank Jr. seems to manage along the way. Hanks is suitably determined as the FBI agent who always seems to be one step behind Abagnale, and Christopher Walken turns in a wonderfully measured and moving performance as Frank Sr.

Based on Frank Abagnale’s real life story, Catch Me If You Can is a sophisticated film in the classic Hollywood tradition - the characters and dialogue are actually important, and the whole film looks fantastic. If you’re looking for a glossy film to take the pain out of revision, this just might be the one you’re looking for. Oh, and the opening credits are probably the coolest you’ll see in a good long while.

Laura Watson

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Summer Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Summer Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Summer Term (35mm)
2023/2024 Summer Term (digital)
2021/2022 Summer Term (digital)
2023/2024 Summer Term (digital)
2021/2022 Summer Term (digital)