“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” The film opens up with this charming quote by the Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, and this quote single-handedly elucidates the movie’s entire plot. Based on the internet-breaking short story of the same name by Kristen Roupenian, “Cat Person” is basically a desperate attempt at narrating a modern-day dating story, which turns into horror. And somehow, CODA-famed Emilia Jones’s undeniably nuanced performance makes the film one of the good ones to come out in the year 2023. Her on-screen pairing with “Succession”-actor Nicholas Braun is so oddly impeccable that it excites one to sit through the end of the film.
Moreover, Isabella Rossellini’s cameo is another fascinating aspect of this film. In the end, “Cat Person” explores the complexity of today’s distressing dating culture, where power dynamics play the most prominent role between a man and a woman. This film also brings back the memory of the #Metoo movement, which is when the actual short story was written. Though the story is not based on real events, “Booksmart” director Susanna Fogel tried her best to narrate it in the most realistic way, which makes up for some of the lousy plot points and slow start of the film.
Cat Person (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
Margot, a 20-year-old college goer with a part-time job in an arthouse movie theater, comes across Robert, a mysterious loner in his thirties. And like most American teenagers, Margot has a dark side that often haunts her and influences her to explore men like Robert. Their story together kind of starts with flirtatious banter at the theater and ends up (not precisely) with Robert asking, “Concession stand girl, why don’t you give me your number?’.
Margot constantly spends the next three days on her phone, exchanging cute text messages with Robert. Then comes the day of an unofficial first date, where Robert turns up on Margot’s campus with a lot of red vines (the first thing they had a conversation about back in the theater) and some treats from 7-Eleven. But this movie is not supposed to be about an all-good romance, so Margot and Robert get locked out in the back room, where Etruscan artifacts (pretty sure they’re just human bones) are stored.
Margot’s immediate intuition makes her imagine a scenario where Robert is going to force himself on her. Even though nothing like that happens, it follows some accidental damage to the college property. Anyway, the date ends up with a good note about both thanking and apologizing to each other and just when Margot thought he would straight up go for a first-date kiss, Robert ends it with a kiss on the forehead. Such a sweet gentleman!
But the sweet romantic comedy takes a sudden turn towards a quirky one, as their first official date after the spring break goes quite wrong. Margot soon realizes she was attracted to the guy in the text; in reality, it was just her “copied” emotions playing a role. While her roommate Taylor (played by Geraldine Vishwanathan) constantly tries to tell her to get out of it by giving Robert closure, Margot would rather ghost him than tell the truth. Even after a brutal but honest text showing her disinterest towards him, Margot’s phone doesn’t stop ringing with Robert’s genuinely concerned messages.
At times, one might sympathize with his desperation and villainize the young and beautiful Margot. In the end, this takes a dark turn, with Robert almost stalking her. Highly suspicious and scared, Margot, who once was smiling at his texts, goes as far as trying to put a tracking device under his car. And that’s when it all goes down. The thriller turns into pure horror.
Why does Margot think Robert might abuse or kill her?
Is Margot pessimistic? Maybe yes, maybe not. But anyone who has been in an abusive or manipulative equation before can vouch that it only gets harder to trust another man. Let alone going out with a complete stranger you met while working at a refreshment stand in a theater. While in “Cat Person,” it’s unclear where Margot’s fears were developed, one can only assume it to be the same. Young, beautiful, and walking alone home at night- all of these make her the vulnerable choice for most predators out there.
While all of these may be true, “Cat Person” gives a chance to rethink it as well. Maybe the level of attraction plays a role in this. Robert is a lonely, average-looking man in his mid-30s who starts going out with someone like Margot. So generally, when things didn’t go well, or even when it was going okay, the thought of him being just a creep always thrived in Margot’s head.
Why did Margot go out with Robert when she wasn’t interested?
Margot was interested, but not in Robert, per se. She was more captivated by the idea of going out with a strange, older man and the mystery that comes with it. So naturally, when the “texting phase” starts to turn into actual dating, Margot starts to pull away. Especially after the night she spends at Robert’s house for the first time. Also, despite Robert being nice to her at the beginning, it is soon revealed he is just like another man in his 30s out there, excited by the thought of going out with a college-goer, and whose idea of romance is men forcibly kissing women on screen and they actually liking it. All of these were enough for Margot to come to the conclusion, “This is the worst life decision she has ever made.”
Why is the movie called Cat Person?
“Cat Person” is based on a renowned short story of the same name by Kristen Roupenian. In the film, while texting at the beginning with Robert, Margot comes to know that he has two cats. But in reality, Robert never mentions them, nor does Margot find them in his house, until the terrifying part at the end of the film. Margot’s best friend Taylor, who is a radical feminist, has an interesting take on this: Robert only mentioned cats in the chats because it made him seem more approachable, non-threatening, and maybe even a bit sensitive.
What is the message of the film?
“Cat Person” primarily explores the gender roles and power dynamics between a couple in modern society. The story is told from Margot’s perspective, where, as a vulnerable young woman, she always has the lower hand with a man. This film revives the dialogue of #Metoo, which took off almost five years ago, and through the recent incidents received worldwide, it portrays how pivotal it still is. So, it is very important who you go out with as a woman, whether you feel safe enough to let the person be in charge in your relationship. And most importantly, if second thoughts are there, get out of it before it’s too late.
Cat Person (2023) Movie Ending, Explained:
What happens to Margot in the end?
The actual short story ends with a surprisingly cruel text from Robert, calling Margot a “whore” once she expresses her disinterest in continuing the equation. But the film explores beyond that. After a horrible fire outbreak followed by an assault on each other, both of them get hospitalized. But Robert is not seen again in the film. Margot’s life goes back to as it was, back to her part-time job at the theater. And she is approached again by another older man, which definitely plays a big flashback for her. And the film ends with this lingering question, “Will she say yes?’ or “Will she rather rely on her lesson from the last experience?”
To conclude, how one interprets the film depends on one’s perspective towards the modern idea of romance. But one thing is for sure: don’t go out with a man whose idea of love is Han Solo kissing Leia despite her rejecting his advances.