Directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and starring Golden Globe winner Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher is a chilling psychological crime drama based on the true story of John E. du Pont (Carell) and his relationship with Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum).
Despite his success as a wrestler, Schultz lives on the poverty line and in the shadow of his more talented and celebrated brother Dave (Ruffalo). But when he is summoned to the Foxcatcher estate by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, who proposes he move there and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he sees a way to finally shine.
Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins coaching both Schultz and a world-class wrestling team, possessing no real experience in the area at all, and lures Mark into dangerous and self-destructive habits, ultimately driving him away from his brother (who du Pont has been after all along).
Written by E. Max Frye and Academy Award nominee Dan Futterman, this film is not a particularly enjoyable one and I cannot say that I liked it at all. In fact, Dave (Ruffalo) is the only likeable character and the story meanders along so slowly that one becomes desperate for something to happen. While the script reveals tidbits of Du Pont’s eccentric character, it never quite gives us enough to keep us engaged. And while the conclusion is indeed chilling, I’m not sure that it’s really worth the wait. Basically, even if you don’t know the true story, you still won’t be surprised by much in this film.
However, regardless of my inability to like Foxcatcher, it does possess merit. The thing about this film is the acting. Steve Carell is unrecognisable as John du Pont, completely transforming himself in this role. An eccentric and volatile man, it is what Carell doesn’t say that adds depth and power to his performance. He is both haunting and chilling in this bizarre, controlling character that continuously slips further and further from our reality and into the reality he has created in his own mind. Tatum and Ruffalo also hold their own, delivering compelling performances brimming with things unspoken. Ruffalo can really do no wrong these days, going from strength to strength in all of his performances and Tatum proves here that he can play more diverse roles than he is often cast in.
I have to give this film three stars purely based on the performances. The characters are well-written and well-realised, it’s the plot that drags its feet. And while what happens in this story is a terrible injustice, I found it very difficult to care. Instead, I found myself just marvelling at Carell and the masterful performance he gives, strongly supported by Ruffalo and Tatum.
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