“Be My Cat: A Film for Anne” is a horror/thriller written and directed by Adrian Tofei and is the first found footage film to come out of Romania, a distinction that this film upholds beautifully. Be My Cat demonstrates that to be successful, a found footage film doesn’t need to be relegated to a shaky cam in the dark recesses of an abandoned building while being chased by a monster, ghost, or chainsaw wielding psychopath (pick your choice). This film shines in the light of day and succeeds by telling an interesting story with great acting and perfect pacing. Not only did Adrian Tofei write and direct this film, he is also the lead actor and principle cinematographer, and most likely wore additional hats as well. The end product is clearly the result of a man who is passionate about his craft.
Be My Cat is filmed from the narrative of our anti-hero, Adrian (Adrian Tofei), and opens with a message to actress Anne Hathaway, “Hello Anne, my name is Adrian. I’m from Romania, and I want to make a movie with you.” – This excerpt sums up the premise of the film. We spend the next ninety minutes with Adrian as he produces a demo reel intended to convince Anne Hathaway to come to Romania to star in his film. We learn that Adrian’s fixation on Anne Hathaway stems from her role as cat woman in Dark Knight Rises. What follows in Be My Cat is completely unexpected, taking many twists and turns and evolving into a mind-bending psychological thriller with plenty of humor, jaw dropping moments, and some well placed gore. As the story ramps up, things quickly spirals out of control as we come to understand that Adrian is not quite sane.
The pacing and plot execution make this film an intriguing work of art to watch – through Adrian’s ranting, the plot reveals itself at a slow and steady pace, from the opening scene through the closing credits, never letting up. There’s never the “ah ha!” moment found in the typical Hollywood feature, instead, Adrian’s motives creep up on us such that we’re not even aware of what’s coming until it’s staring us in the face. Due to his psychosis, Adrian himself is often not fully aware of what he’s doing until after the fact and he’s faced with the consequences of his actions – as such, both Adrian (on screen) and we the audience share the same jaw dropping reaction to what’s unfolding in front of us. I was so intrigued as to what Adrian would say or do next, that at times I completely forgot I was watching a scripted film and instead found myself wanting to learn more about his character.
I was so intrigued as to what Adrian would say or do next, that at times I completely forgot I was watching a scripted film and instead found myself wanting to learn more about his character.
Be My Cat takes us on a journey of discovery of Adrian’s character and psyche, inviting us to share in Adrian’s personal revelations as his character evolves. During this process, we’re witness to an onscreen transformation that feels convincingly real. The manner in which the film leverages the unpredictability of Adrian’s character admittedly caught me off-guard on more than a few occasions through the delivery of politically incorrect dialog and seemingly impromptu actions that left my jaw agape.
The acting of Adrian Tofei and the three supporting cast, Sonia Teodoriu, Florentina Hariton, and Alexandra Stroe, is nothing short of exceptional. The delivery by the principal cast is natural and fluid, resulting in a genuineness that I have yet to encounter in any other found footage film to date. From speaking Adrian Tofei, many of the people filmed on the streets of Romania were actual bystanders filmed without the knowledge that a feature film was being shot, adding to the authenticity.
Be My Cat takes us on a journey of discovery of Adrian’s character and psyche, inviting us share in Adrian’s personal revelations as his character evolves. During this process we’re witness to an onscreen transformation that feels convincingly real.
The filming reason is often the most critiqued aspect of a found footage film, as many viewers look for a plausible reason as to why the found footage is captured in the first place. Be My Cat has an exceptional (if not unique) filming reason. Simply put, the film is created by an insane person whose mission is to woo the subject of his obsession, Anne Hathaway. How can one argue with the reasoning of an insane person?
The cinematography in Be My Cat is an incredible feat – AdrianTofei personally holds the video camera for the vast majority of the film, keeping the camera trained on himself while walking and talking. The camera is held so steady and moves so fluidly that its easy to forget that we’re watching a found footage film. I had a chance to catch up with Adrian and asked how he kept the camera so steady while filming and he said, “When you extend your hand and film yourself, the muscles act like a steady cam machine.”
Quite brilliantly, whenever any of Adrian’s victims are placed under stress, they naturally revert to speaking in their native Romanian tongue. This subtle nuance carries a great deal of weight in making this film feel authentic.
Another nuance that lends credence to the found footage style cinematography is Adrian Tofei’s tilting of the camera towards the ground whenever filming strangers on the streets of Romania, which is something a person would typically do out of respect for privacy and politeness. While this film has its share of violence, creative choreography and prop placement manage to deliver spine tingling moments without showing too much on-screen. When it comes to horror films, showing less onscreen leaves more to the imagination, often resulting in a greater visceral impact.
During the film, Adrian requests that everyone speak English since his demo reel is intended for Anne Hathaway. However, quite brilliantly, whenever any of Adrian’s victims are placed under stress, they naturally revert to speaking in their native Romanian tongue. This subtle nuance carries a great deal of weight in making this film feel authentic.
All of the elements that define a successful found footage film are deeply rooted in Be My Cat. Director, writer, cinematographer, and actor Adrian Tofei created a wonderful work of art and I hope this is not his last found footage film.