Troubled Charm

Imagine discovering that your son was a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, and a pilot with degrees from Berkley and Harvard and has accumulated more than four million dollars before the age of 19.  For the proud and naïve parents, Frank, Sr. and Paula Abignale, this was their experience.  In the Steven Spielberg directed Catch Me If You Can (2002), main character, Frank Jr. accomplished all of this fraudulently and managed to keep the FBI pursuing him for years.  Torn by the divorce of his father and mother and forced to make a decision where to live, Frank ran away from home to escape.  His money soon ran out and Frank turned to an alternate way of making money: printing checks.  Inspired by his father’s ability to captivate individuals and audiences alike, Frank enthralled employers and convinced banks to loan him millions.  Frank, even with his misappropriated millions of dollars, dozens of women, and prestigious homes, still has the bitter taste of abandonment from his parents divorce.  Catch Me If You Can not only captures Frank’s charming, witty, and affectionate personality, but penetrates his outer shell and explores what truly haunts Frank Abignale Jr.  Catch Me If You Can balances these facets perfectly to create a playful but meaningful film–the greatest of all time.

Leonardo Di Caprio’s performance as Frank mesmerizes audiences with his boyish swagger (See Image Below).  It is impossible not to fall in love with this character. From pretending to be a substitute teacher on his first day of high school to escaping an airplane through the toilet, Frank makes impossible tricks seem trivial through his unquenchable charisma.  Again and again, Frank narrowly escapes FBI capture but remains collected and clever throughout the entire chase; something that not even the best villain in a James Bond scene could portray.


Abignale with several flight attendants

While Frank’s shining personality gives Catch Me If You Can flare, it’s the discovery of his troubled soul that truly makes this film the best ever.  Through a series of Christmas phone calls between FBI agent Carl Hanratty and Frank, Carl realizes that the only reason Frank is calling him is because he has no one else to talk to, not even his mother or father.  The movie culminates as Frank, after escaping FBI custody once again, visits his mother’s home only to find her with a new husband and little girl.  As the police cars converge, he simply runs to Carl, the only stable person in his life over the past few years, and turns himself in.  This scene, the best of the movie, delivers on so many levels.  The first being Frank’s meteoric downfall from a wealthy “businessman” to a disheveled and broken child.  Secondly, he sees that his mother has moved on with her life and apparently forgotten about him and his father while he still desperately wants to get the family he loved back together.  While the film’s pinnacle leaves a somber note, it speaks volumes of how well the story was told.  No other movie entices the audience to fall in love with one of the greatest criminals in recent history.  This aspect makes Catch Me If You Can unique and substantial.

Catch Me If You Can takes two very different qualities, humility and inspiring confidence, and meshes them together to create a film unlike any other.  As evident in this film, charismatic yet troubled young men can amass overwhelming power and strut a fine line between good and greed.

Previously Graded Draft:


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