Catching Feelings Review

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 18, 2018 (Last updated: December 16, 2023)
Catching Feelings - Netflix Original - Review


Catching Feelings brings a new and savvy perspective to the South African city of Johannesburg. We follow the young couple, Max and Sam, as their lives are stirred by the presence of the chaotic author Heiner. Gradually their lives begin to fall apart, and their marriage pushed to its limits as they explore what it truly means to trust someone.

Catching Feelings follows the lives of journalist Sam and author turned English teacher Max as they go day by day seemingly living a satisfactory lifestyle. This marriage they have created for themselves is soon interrupted by the presence of the decadent Heiner Miller, a hedonistic narcissist, a man only interested in fulfilling his own desires. Miller acts as the devil’s advocate, a walking, talking representation of the temptation to answer the darker, more insubordinate nature of human desire. 

An intriguing depiction of a youthful lifestyle, Catching Feelings really does give us an inside look into the real-life consequences of rebelling against the social norm. The film itself, although well polished, owns a rugged charm with the city of Johannesburg being a key character in the backdrop to the story. The city provides a nuance of confliction, a site of modern activities executed by wealthy and successful youth juxtaposed with the very real and evident social struggles of South Africa. This works to create a fascinating character dynamic and lends itself to some controversial and thought-provoking conversations. 

Although a comedy-romance, Catching Feelings certainly falls within the dark comedy sub-genre. With self-loathing, self-deprecating and all too relatable characters, Catching Feelings explores themes of drugs, alcohol, and adultery. A mesmerizing display of the world of vice and how easy it is to give into temptation given the chance. Overall a film of questionable morals and even more so questionable characters. Quite intriguingly so, the characters of Catching Feelings are often very hypocritical in thought and action. Demonising others for their actions whilst judging their own by intention, this is most evident in protagonist Max. As a self-proclaimed doubter of humanity, Max is happy to share his views on race and identity and yet suffers from fated offense when confronted with similarly strong views from another. 

This back and forth of sensitive and often controversial opinions creates an amazing chemistry of admiration and detest in equal measure. The cast boasts exquisite talent that proves themselves time and time again through scenes of confrontation and communication. Catching Feelings showcases some of the most forthright and yet relevant problems that the residents of Johannesburg face. Shining light on issues of identity and race in a location often inflicted by racial tension, and outdated views. The relationship between teacher Max (Kagiso Lediga)  and author Miller (Andrew Buckland), is marvelous. With the perfect combination of brutal honesty, humor and respect, the imperative pair keeps audiences engaged and eager to dig deeper into the reasoning for their strong opinions.

Catching Feelings was also directed by Kagiso Lediga, proving himself to be plenty worthy in front and behind the camera. Although an ambitious and, I imagine, often challenging position, Lediga clearly is a gifted creator with a suave and completely natural sense of style. Catching Feelings is instinctive in motion and never faltering in pace or substance, a demonstration of a keen eye for realism and talent for delivering an engaging sense of verisimilitude.  

Overall, Catching Feelings is an engaging movie, one that brushes upon the serious parts of life with charm and honesty. A film worthy of discussion, Catching Feelings challenges the expected norms of life and the burning desire to part from these norms as a side effect of the human condition. With added discussions of race, privilege and social injustices, Catching Feelings becomes more than just a rom-com but also a film of relevance. The honesty demonstrated throughout Catching Feelings will surely lead to some audiences shuffling uncomfortably in their seats. This being so, Catching Feelings is an honorable expression of the current social climate in not just South Africa but in many other parts of the world too. 

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