Skip to content Skip to footer

Sundance 2023: Cat Person Review

Modern dating is a disastrous concept. Gone are the days of meeting people organically – it’s all apps, dating sites, and social media. This process is awkward for everyone, but more so for women, where it can even be dangerous. In 2017, the New Yorker published a short story by Kristen Roupenian called Cat Person, which highlighted women’s anxieties when approaching dating. Cat Person is adapted for the screen by Michelle Ashford and directed by Susanna Fogel (The Spy Who Dumped Me). 

Margot (Emilia Jones) is a college student working at a cinema. After a casual interaction with Robert (Nicholas Braun), a customer who is much older than her, he asks for her number. They start texting each other and eventually start dating. Although Margot initially connects with Robert, she struggles not to assume he has an ulterior motive at every given opportunity. She imagines the worst-case scenario in every scenario. Cat Person captures these moments with an insidiousness that will feel all too real for people who relate to the situation that Margot is in. 

The constant ambiguity as to Robert’s true intentions keeps the story on its tracks but it does eventually derail.  The New Yorker article has a very distinct ending that reveals Robert’s true identity, concluding that Margot dodged a bullet. This moment is adapted onto the screen and is one of the film’s snappiest moments. It would have been a chilling way to wrap things up, but it keeps going. The final act is all over the place and takes things out of reality as it searches for an action-filled Hollywood ending. It ultimately takes away all the good favour it built up to start with. 

Emilia Jones is back at Sundance, in two films, after her career-jumping turn in Best Picture winner CODA, which premiered at the fest in 2021. Margot is an amalgamation of a plethora of different women’s experiences and Emilia Jones carries that with her throughout. Meanwhile, Nicholas Braun is a million miles away from lost puppy dog cousin Greg from Succession as Robert. He balances the kind and affectionate with the cringe and downright creepy scarily well.

His character represents a wider problem with men and how they often romanticise love through the media they consume (Robert is obsessed with Harrison Ford and his idealised version of romance is Han Solo and Princess Leia from Star Wars). If their real-life experiences don’t match that or the women they date don’t see things that way they can become very scary. 


Cat Person explores what might seem trivial to men but is very real for women in an overall satisfying way. If it stuck to that principle it could be a totally different film and perhaps something with more impact on the messages it’s trying to deliver. Festival predecessor, Fresh, explored the same themes and did so in a far more interesting manner. If only the film had the same kind of bite.