Food and the Con
by Idhant Khosla
The movie that I chose to analyze was "Catch Me If You Can." This film is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr. which follows Frank’s journey as one of the most successful con artists, and his pursuit by the relentless FBI agent, Carl Hanratty. While the central plot does not revolve around food, food is used as a symbolic and thematic instrument.
Food in the movie is used to convey an illusion of wealth. His cons often involve Frank creating an image of money sophistication, and his extravagant dining experiences significantly contribute to this facade. Food becomes a tool to signal prosperity.
Another role of food in this file is how food is used to highlight the emotional connection between Frank and his father. In one scene, Frank Jr. takes his dad to a restaurant and orders him an extravagant lobster dish, a symbol of their shared dreams. Food here is a medium for expressing love, aspirations, and the desire for a better life.
This scene further also reinforces the point of food being used to symbolize wealth. This restaurant is incredibly nice which is contrasting to Frank’s upbringing and his dads norms. For example, his dad is confused why one of his forks is cold, when Frank informs him it is a salad fork (something only seen at expensive restaurants).
Food and drink also function as a representation of Frank's youth and inexperience. During his initial flight while posing as a pilot in training, his peculiar request for, "Milk, please," from a flight attendant highlights his youth. This unusual beverage choice becomes a subtle yet effective way to emphasize Frank's relative inexperience in the world he is navigating.
In "Catch Me If You Can," food while not the central focus of the story, serves as a significant and purposeful element, enriching the audience's understanding of the characters and their actions.
Catch Me If You Can. Dir. Steven Speilberg, Dreamwork Pictures, 2002.