Foxcatcher (2014)

Foxcatcher (2014)
  • Time: 134 min
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | Sport
  • Director: Bennett Miller
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo


The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher lead by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.


  • On January 26, 1996, John du Pont shot Dave Schultz three times in the driveway of Schultz’s home, which was located on du Pont’s 800-acre Pennsylvania estate. As Dave lay dying, the murderer – who was also heir to the fortune of one of America’s wealthiest families – barricaded himself in his mansion for two days, only to be apprehended when he ventured outside to fix his heater after the police had cut off the power. He was found and guilty and sentenced to 13 to 30 years; he died in prison 13 years later. He was 72.

    There was no definitive motive established though du Pont had always exhibited somewhat strange behaviour. During the trial, defense psychiatrists deemed du Pont a paranoid schizophrenic. At his sentencing, du Pont maintained his ill mental health when he killed Dave and apologised for the inconvenience caused to Dave’s wife and children. One can read more about it in Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother’s Murder, John du Pont’s Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold penned by Dave’s brother Mark with David Thomas.

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  • Based on a true story, Foxcatcher is about two Olympic wrestling gold medalist brothers, Mark Schultz, played by Channing Tatum (22 Jump Street) and Dave Schultz, played by Mark Ruffalo (Begin Again), who join Team Foxcatcher led by John du Pont, played by Steve Carell (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), as they train for the 1988 Olympics.

    This is a story I knew nothing about (mainly because I wasn’t born before ’87) before the film was announced, however the trailer instantly grabbed my interest. Foxcatcher was originally set to be released in 2014, unfortunately, we all had to wait another year for this to finally be released and I have to say it was…
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  • Every now and then, an actor may give a performance that demonstrates a true ability to adapt and change their repertoire in a major way. Matthew McConaughey did it with Mud, Jim Carrey did it with The Truman Show and Steve Carell has definitely done that with Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. Miller has been known to get great dramatic performances out of unlikely actors, most notably his transformation of Jonah Hill in Moneyball. With that in mind, does Steve Carell’s latest performance reflect in the quality of the film?

    Foxcatcher is based on the true story of two brothers, Mark and David Schultz, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo respectively; they are both 1984 gold medalists in Olympic Wrestling. Mark is a solitary man who is overshadowed by his brothers past successes but when John Du Pont, a billionaire philanthropist and wrestling enthusiast (played by Steve Carell) calls him and invites him to join his private wrestling team, entitled ‘Team Foxcatcher’. Mark can not resist the money and promptly heads to Du Pont’s estate to train. However, Du Pont’s intense desire to get Mark’s brother involved in the team creates an uneasiness between all three men, which eventually leads to disaster…

    To start, Bennett Miller’s direction is full of very interesting choices, providing different perspectives on events that other directors would not necessarily consider; from strange use of blur, to unusual lighting choices and shots that may seem unnecessary to the film, Miller actually create this real sense of anticipation that something will happen, but no one can predict what it is. The use of sound is very interesting at points, with Bennett frequently favouring silence and isolation over traditional sound. There is a great feeling of loneliness in Miller’s direction of Mark’s character; the film never eases away from his slow, detached mindset and a lot of that is down to a very good performance from Channing Tatum. After a year of comedy and animation, Tatum has toned down his performance hugely, creating a vulnerable, unpredictable but hugely driven character. There is a history between Mark and his brother and both Tatum and Ruffalo beautifully convey this tricky, rough-road relationship.

    The absolute best performance of the film goes to Mark Ruffalo, who definitely has the hardest job in terms of range. David Schultz is a multilayered character with responsibilities, desires, stresses and a very difficult younger brother to deal with. Ruffalo gives the most human performance of the movie with a great tenderness combined with a natural charisma that would motivate anyone to be their best. As the film progresses, David’s character undergoes some serious stresses due to the tension between himself, Mark and John. Ruffalo beautifully handles the responsibility of being the story’s voice of reason, even though his character does not have half as much dialogue as the other leading actors. It is an outstanding supporting performance from a criminally underrated actor.

    Steve Carell is the one getting all the attention for this film and it’s not hard to see why. His transformation in to John Du Pont is terrifying; from his prosthetic nose to his fake teeth, everything about Carell’s performance screams a desire to push away from his typical niche films. While his performance in this film is very one-dimensional, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Carell has pulled back on everything he’s known for; his rubbery facial expression are simplified to the bare minimum smirks, straight faces and a very occasional laugh. While on most other actors this would seem bland, Bennett Miller has inspired a great performance out of Carell that may remind some of Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler, with subtlety being the name of the game. While in my opinion Gyllenhaal is far superior in doing so, Carell has definitely shown a new side to his acting ability and, like McConaughey and Carrey, it can open up some new doors for him to truly expand on his impressive work here.

    The main negative of this film is the pacing in the first half. With the opening act focusing solely of Mark story, there is a lot of downtime in this film; with the first 20 minutes or so having no music, barely any sound and a dim lighting style, it sets a very singular and monotonous tone that does harm the film. In spite of great performances by the leads, the story does not give us enough reason to care about them for an irritatingly long time, with most of the first half following stress, training sequences and some strenuously long sequences about irrelevant subjects such as birds, horses and tanks. The story essentially follows 3 guys that can’t seem to connect emotionally, and when the entire first half of a 2+ hour movie is devoted to this uneasiness, with maybe one or two lighter scenes, the anticipation does wear off after a while.

    However from the moment physicality is brought out between our main characters, with what I can only describe as the best slap in cinema this past year, the second half of the story becomes a very well done and tense build, using the sport of wrestling to beautifully convey emotional conflict outside the sport. The direction picks up with beautifully shot scenes including a great moment with Mark training on an exercise bike. The final 5 minute scene makes the whole build feel somewhat worth it, but the pacing overall is just too slow to truly appreciate the brilliant performances from Tatum, Carell and Ruffalo.

    The soundtrack was definitely underused as well with several scenes feeling like they should have had music to guide them; what we got though was a number of scenes coming across as awkward and bland. While silence in moderation is always welcome, I think a more prominent soundtrack would have benefited this movie. If you want a fantastic example of a movie with hardly any music and not much in the way of sound, I would recommend No Country for Old Men.

    Overall this film could definitely have been a lot better had the running time been cut quite a bit. The performances of the lead actors are all brilliant and are worth seeing, but the pacing does harm the emotional connection to the actors, until the second half which does pick up greatly. I would definitely say this is worth seeing for the strong acting and quality direction. Fans of long tension buildups from start to finish will likely find some enjoyment, but not much else stands out here.

  • Ever since I saw the first trailer, I had a very high, Oscar worthy expectations for this slow, but intense wrestling biopic drama the “Foxcatcher”. There is a sense of underlined intensity throughout this film, that leads us to believe that the end might culminate in a violent crescendo as it indeed does.

    “When wealthy John du Pont (Steve Carell) invites Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to move to his estate and help form a wrestling team for the 1988 Olympics, Mark sees a way to step out of the shadow of his charismatic brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo). However, du Pont begins to lead Mark down a dark road, causing the athlete’s self-esteem to slip. Meanwhile, du Pont becomes fixated on bringing Dave into the fold, eventually propelling all three toward an unforeseen tragedy.”

    In “Foxcatcher” the whole wrestling competition has a very heavy homo erotic undertone about it. Specially in the retrospect of the relationship between John du Pont and Mark Schultz. One is trying to be a father figure the other looking for guidance. As the film progresses there is something darker that develops between the two man, which will explain almost jealous like behavior of John du Pont towards his brother Dave and their relationship. On the other hand the fact that Mark lost his family when he was 2 years old made him be fully dependent on his older brother Dave. We can see the bond between them two being tested, when wealthy blue blood du Pont, decides to invite them both to his Foxcatcher a state, where he offers them a perfect training environment. However nothing comes free in this world and as the film progresses, the pressure on Mark to be the best and come out of his older brother shadow takes painful tool on his mental health.

    The whole movie feels like a tour the force of those 3 actors. Both Ruffalo and Tatum went through 6 months long grueling wrestling training and indeed look the part. Both concentrated on body language and type of walk that truly transforms them on to this real life characters that seems to be removed from their actual film star persona. The biggest highlight however and to some extant surprise is the performance of comedian Steve Carell. His minimalistic performance is indeed Oscar worthy. Behind all the prosthetics, he actually developed a speech pattern and a way of breading which controls the speed of delivering lines. In “Foxcatcher” he is a super wealthy man who does not need to talk fast. Psychologically his relationship with his mother is interesting. He is looking for approval from her, always feeling like he disappoints her by engaging in a wrestling sport, which she feels is way too common for someone of his social statue.

    On paper “Foxcatcher” looks like sure Oscar bet, however there is a problem in this movie and namely with the timing. Among many other things the job of a good director is to be able to maintain the timing of the lines between the characters which creates the illusion of reality. Big part of that, can be created in editing but sometimes when actors take a little bit too much time for their thought process in between their lines, the whole scene can loose it’s tempo which happens here all the time. By doing so, when tempo of the movie gets slowed down the whole movie looses its intensity and audiences interest. That is a pity indeed because this film had a huge potential to be truly exceptional. I also think that music and specially sound design should have been used to a better effect.

    I am happy for Steve Carell that he was able to showcase his dramatic side in this film. He has been rightfully nominated for an Oscar for his role. I only wish that the whole film would have been made a little bit better, raising it form a good level to a great one. It is all about fulfilling it’s potential which “Foxcatcher” fully did not. I might be bit hard on “Foxcatcher” in this review, but when you’ve expected great things and you have to subtle, the enjoyment of the viewing experience can sometime leave something to be desired. “Foxcatcher” is still worth the cinema admission ticked though.

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  • Bennett Miller is a director who only three films to his name but is already one of the most accomplished directors in the world. Before his third film Foxcatcher, Miller directed Capote and Moneyball. Both biopics about prominent American people. With Foxcatcher he tells the story of American heroes and an American villain. Based on true events, Foxcatcher tells the story of Dave and Mark Schultz, two Olympic champion wrestlers and their unlikely relationship with multi-millionaire John du Pont, who invites them his team, Team Foxcatcher.

    Directed by: Bennett Miller with a screenplay from Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye and starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo in the three main roles, Foxcatcher is a stirring drama and wonderful, dark character study. The film is elevated mainly by three spectacular performances from it’s three lead stars; Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Carell is the pick of the three performers in his dark and sadistic turn as John Du Pont. With his prosthetic nose Carell is dry, awkward and quietly terrifying. He completely inhabits the role, his mannerisms, demeanor all represent the darkness of his character. What’s even amazing is that this is the same guy who is known countless comedic roles, From The Office to Anchorman to Crazy, Stupid, Love. His transformation into this character is truly fascinating. Channing Tatum is also very good giving the best and most emotionally complex performance of his career as Mark Schultz, the younger brother of Dave who’s tired of living in his shadow, Tatum’s character goes through so many phases in the movie and his acting through all this is superb. As for Ruffalo, his character is the most realistic and effective. He acts as the voice of reason after his brother neglects his guidance. He is excellent and gives perhaps the most dramatic performance of his career.

    Even though the attention remains mainly on the characters Foxcatcher manages to maintain the element of wrestling as well as staying relevant as a drama. Now, Foxcatcher may be a wonderfully acted film but it lacks in presenting a strong narrative. The pacing is also quite slow therefore the film relies on its actors to dictate the pace. The screenplay from Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye isn’t exactly very compelling either, while the character development is impeccable the weak narrative remains the film’s biggest problem.

    In conclusion, Foxcatcher is a great film that features Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo at the top of their game. It manages to stay relevant as both a drama and film about wrestling. Even if it lacks in presenting a strong narrative Foxcatcher is a dark, morose crime-drama and one of the best films of the year.

    Final Score: 8.6/10

    -Khalid Rafi

  • I feel as though the latest run of biopic films has culminated with this film. And although Foxcatcher is a biopic that chronicles the relationship between Olympic wrestler Mark Shultz and billionaire industrialist John du Pont, I feel it also is a snapshot into the wrestling world of the late 1980s.

    Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is trying to make ends meet speaking at schools across America, but still lives in the shadow of his older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo). One day, Mark gets a phone call from the estate of John du Pont (Steve Carrell), the heir to the du Pont family fortune, to come and discuss leading a wrestling team that John wants to set up. Mark agrees and is hoping to win gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. As time progresses, du Pont’s behaviour starts to display signs of madness.

    This film is a marvel of direction. Bennett Miller knows how to use his actors properly and is amazing at making beautiful and evocative shots. Many times throughout the film when there is great stress happening on screen, the sound drops away to emphasise the powerful images that are being presented to us, a technique which I have always loved.

    Like American Sniper, Foxcatcher is a patriotic film. This patriotism, however, is laced with a certain cynicism, with du Pont manipulating other people’s sense of nationalism to his own ends. The film also gives a more detailed look into competitive wrestling than I have witnessed before. Since I only learn about the world through movies, my only real exposure had been through scenes in The World According to Garp or Born On the Fourth of July, but here I was exposed to the raw physicality of the sport. There is a jaw dropping scene at the beginning of the film where Tatum and Ruffalo are training together and you can sense the unspoken power struggle between the two.

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  • Even if you don’t know a thing about the sport of Olympic wrestling (or for that matter, never watch it on TV), you’ll still be impressed by the intricacies and accuracy at which 2014’s Foxcatcher goes about its two-hour plus running time. Based on a true story, this film gives you three actors (Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum) like you’ve never seen them before. And it provides you with direction from Bennett Miller that translates into calm and confident (almost too calm) with a side of medium cool.

    As you watch Foxcatcher, you sense that everyone who worked on it wanted things to be as authentic as possible. You can also tell that the rich cast probably researched their roles as grapplers (and as coaches) and Miller approved what seemed like a thorough script comprised by two writers (Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye). But while “Catcher” has one pulverizing scene of violence and great performances, it doesn’t quite wring you by the neck like it should. This thing moves at a snail’s pace with plenty of mundane atmospherics. It’s solid by historical standards but not in same league as the director’s previous work (that would be the 2011 masterpiece, Moneyball).

    Filmed almost entirely in Pennsylvania (that explains the lack of sunshine and earthy tones) and taking place in the latter part of the 1980’s, Foxcatcher tells the real life story of two Olympic wrestlers (Mark Ruffalo as Dave Schultz and Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz) who are befriended, taken in, and mentored by a creepy, dour millionaire named John du Pont (Steve Carell, who’s screen presence for some reason gave off a Norman Bates vibe). The 1988 Seoul Olympics are less than a year away and du Pont wants to sponsor his “Foxcatcher” team of hungry hopefuls (he lets everyone live on his estate and even builds a wrestling facility for them, how interesting). When things go sour between Mark and John (don’t ever slap Channing Tatum across the face and call him an ape, ha ha), their relationship reaches a breaking point and Tatum’s Mark leaves to train somewhere else. As Foxcatcher carries on, Dave reluctantly stays around with his family. He continues to live and coach on du Pont’s property only to fall to tragedy in the film’s final act.

    Now if you’ve read the background on Foxcatcher’s true happenings, you’re gonna know what occurs a mile away (and it is indeed tragic). The concluding murder scene (as mentioned earlier) is visceral and heartbreaking. However, the monotone journey to get to that point doesn’t beef it up much. The closing credits come up and things somehow just turn into a ho hum experience. Case in point: “Catcher” jumps from the 88′ Seoul Olympics to January 1996 (the time of said murder) within only a scene and a half. What happened in those years? What as an audience, did we miss? Editing flap? Possibly.

    In retrospect, I predict that on January 15th (the day of the Oscar nominations), Steve Carell will probably be up for Best Actor. With a prosthetic nose, altered face make-up, and false teeth, his portrayal of du Pont is I suppose, an impersonation but still startlingly good. He proves to me that he’s found a new niche in Hollywood (call this a comeback since his stints in comedy lately have really gone downhill). I would also endorse the always effective, Mark Ruffalo. He plays David Schultz with a realized sympathy and a heartening level of tolerance. Here’s hoping that he gets a supporting nod (it would register as his second in the last five years). As for Foxcatcher itself, it’s more of a movie to revel in character study mechanisms than to savor as invigorating, compelling fodder. It occasionally “catches” fire only to unabashedly leave you a bit cold.

    Of note: Towards “Catcher’s” conclusion, you’ll hear some of its film score completely lifted from the 2002 indie, Gerry. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Oh and look for a central trademark from Bennett Miller when it comes to close-ups with his actors. He seems to love capturing them just thinking or staring forward. It was put to effective use with Brad Pitt in Moneyball and it really seems to work here. Finally, I was torn in wondering whether Carell’s du Pont was psychotic, socially inept, lonely, just needed a friend, or had too much easy access to guns (the film doesn’t document his defense strategy or his actual murder trial unfortunately). If you haven’t seen Foxcatcher yet, there’s your recommended multiple choice.

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  • Bennett Miller uses the true story of John du Pont to examine how patriotism can be used to advance and to conceal corruption. The story operates on two levels, family psychology and the dynamic of the United States. That is, its subject psychopathology is both personal and societal.
    In the familial aspect John (Steve Carrell) chafes to emerge from his mother’s disregard. A patrician, played by the iconic Brit Vanessa Redgrave, she has a passion for horses and disdains of her son’s “low” interest in wrestling. Her disdain only drives him lower. There is no mention of his father, just a reference to his ancestors making the du Ponts America’s richest family by cashing in on the nation’s need for weaponry. John seduces his prize prospect Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) by sympathizing with his putative need to escape the shadow of his older brother and trainer Dave (Mark Ruffalo). As in the school assembly scene, Mark is the substitute for his more heroic brother. John uses Mark to get to his real prey, Dave. He buys the individual so he can buy the family.
    The titles play against historic images of the British foxhunt. In naming his wrestling team Foxcatcher John aspires to develop an American glory that would match the older British imperialism. The irony is that both are blood sports, with not much virtue or morality to distinguish either. When his mother visits a training session John takes over the coaching to impress her with his knowledge and leadership of men. He fails. As a boy he was disillusioned to learn his mother had been paying a boy to be his friend. He has ever since tried to prove to her his worth. Where strangers might be impressed by his claims to being an ornithologist, philatelist and philanthropist, she denies him any affection or respect. When she dies he has lost his motivation and abandons all restraint. He turns her stable of world-class valuable horses loose into the wilds. He has already ruined Mark by turning him onto cocaine and booze and reduced him from disciplined wrestler to a stooge promoting du Pont’s image. He has made the chaste stud his bitch.
    The sterile opulence and history of the du Pont estate contrasts to the exuberance and warmth of Dave with his family, however seedy their accommodation. Dave’s wife Nancy (Sienna Miller) is the only proper mother and woman we see in this film. Where du Pont prioritizes his self-aggrandizement through his wrestlers, Dave emphasizes his role as father and brother over all else. He saves his Sundays for them. Having destroyed Mark with his ostensible friendship and intimacy, du Pont’s final madness is an assault on the family closeness he never experienced.
    When du Pont adopts his nickname, Eagle or Golden Eagle, he pretends to a male camaraderie he has never known. Friends invent nicknames. The intimacy of the wrestlers’ constant embracing and physical expressions of support is a parody of affection and friendship, that easily tips into violence and bloodshed, even when the grapplers are loving brothers. The first wrestling match we see seems especially homoerotic because only later do we learn the men are brothers.
    But the Eagle image also makes du Pont an embodiment of America. Of course, the du Pont name has come to connote American militarism and destructive chemicals. Carrell plays du Pont with a predatory bird’s beak that is a harsh parody of the Brit’s patrician schnoz. He often freezes in a lofty steely stare. When John isn’t claiming that his “coaching” makes him a model father and mentor, he’s disguising his vain and corrupt activity as trying to revive America’s status in the world. His patriotism is a fraud.
    John clearly buys off his opponent in the over-50 tournament. He effectively buys control of the US Olympics wrestling team. He not only uses cocaine but urges it on his filial charge, Mark. Yet he still claims to be a role model coaching other young role models for America’s youth to follow. In his vanity documentary he climactically uses the tribute footage of the broken and rejected Mark. Carrell’s du Pont is a black caricature of that bromide, “family values.” What makes the du Pont tragedy so current is its reflection of the Republicans’ paralyzing the government and damaging the nation’s health and economy in blatant self-interest. On the national plane as on the psychological, a profound insecurity results in macho posturing and self-destruction.
    The epilogue suggests a bit of a happy ending. du Pont died in jail. And Mark, whom we last see reduced to the circus of commercial all-in wrestling, is now teaching clinics in Oregon. Mark has become the role model his vile mentor only professed to be. For more analyses see

  • Quickie Review:

    Mark Shultz (Channing Tatum) and his brother Dave Shultz (Mark Ruffalo) are both Olympic gold medallist wrestlers. In a chance to prove himself away from his brother’s shadow, Mark joins Team Foxcatcher created by millionaire John E. du Pont (Steve Carell). As their working relationship starts to develop Mark comes to realise John’s inner demons. Foxcatcher, is a suspenseful drama exploring very human insecurities and the actions it can drive us to take. Both Channing Tatum and Steve Carell give likely their career defining performance so far. Though a slow burn, the slow rising temperature is worth the wait.

    Full Review:

    Steve Carell is a comedy icon, and deservedly so. Meanwhile, a once laughable actor Channing Tatum had found his niche with the Jump Street franchise. Now we gladly laugh at Tatum because we genuinely find him to be great in comedy. However, with Foxcatcher both of these actors are daring to try something out of their comfort zone. That’s the reason why I was so excited to see this film.

    Channing Tatum has really come a long way since his Step Up days (when in mood for puns you could even say he “stepped up”). Looking at the massive success of 21 & 22 Jump Street I wouldn’t have been shocked if Tatum continued to do comedies. Instead he chose to do a dramatic role with the director of Moneyball, Bennett Miller. A ballsy move, but one that pays off. He completely changes himself into a different person in this film. Yes, at first glance you would pass him off as a big bulky gym junkie, but there is more to him than that. He wants to be the best, to be seen as a hero. In his quest for greatness, Tatum effectively shows the jealousy and competitiveness of his character. A quest that inevitably alienates him from his loved ones. As for Steve Carell, he has the obvious physical changes but the dramatic transformation he goes through is much more impressive. His character John presents himself as a visionary and a leader. However, that is all a façade he hides his insecurities behind. His need for approval makes him manipulate people and his own public image. The more this need grows, the more questionable decisions he makes that constantly builds the tension between him and the rest of the cast. Their relation together is what makes the audience remain on the edge.

    One thing I should mention that some people may have a problem with, the length of the movie. I personally enjoyed the slow pace because it made sense with the psychology of the lead characters. That slow burn and tension led to a narrative climax that I physically reacted to. The only reason I bring this up is because I did notice several people leaving the cinema well before the film ended. The number of people was significant enough that it made me wonder if I was the only one who didn’t mind the pacing. Nevertheless, I’m just cautioning you in case that does happen to be of any concern.

    In the end, I really liked Foxcatcher. It is always great to see actors take risks, even more so when they succeed. Tatum and Carell certainly did succeed, and I hope this isn’t the last we see of them in a dramatic role.

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  • This is one of those movies that you don’t enjoy watching but when it’s done, you loved it and want to see it again.

    Nearly every moment hurts because of how wonderfully the roles are played. Steve Carrell deserves all the praise he’s received for his role. You never know what to think about his character, and I believe that’s supposed to be the point. He creeps you out, but you can’t stop watching.

    Channing Tatum may be getting some flak, but I loved his performance. Everyone’s saying that Steve made some major changes to his appearance, movements, speech, etc…but Tatum did just as much, in my opinion. The charismatic, confident leading hunk transformed into an awkward, quiet, slumped-over man for the role, and I loved it. He plays it so well and with a lot of depth. I don’t know much about the actual person he’s portraying, all I can speak on is the character in the movie, and I think he did a wonderful job. Honestly, I’m sad that he was not the one nominated for the lead role Oscar, but I understand why.

    Everyone else was just as wonderful, of course. I’m not going to pick apart every role, but I can say that the acting was never an issue for me. I can’t really say what I’d change, although I suppose it had a weird pace at times. But it’s dark, it’s disturbing, and yet it’s completely interesting and you can’t look away because you just HAVE to see what’s going to happen to everyone…even though it’s a true story and unfortunately we already know.

    I don’t regret seeing it in the slightest, and I plan to see it many more times.

  • When it comes to depicting a real figure caught up in real events, the one aspect that movie’s struggle with is really getting to the heart of it’s character. Commonly, these characters are larger than life, and it takes a truly talented actor to bring them to life and an intelligent script to dig beneath their skin. Director Bennett Miller seem to have the magic touch. His three features have all been based on true-life stories. Philip Seymour Hoffman brought Truman Capote to life in Capote (2005), to the point where you believed the strange voice coming out of him wasn’t a mere impersonation, but an embodiment. His second feature, Moneyball (2011) was a solid depiction of underdog coach Billy Bean (Brad Pitt), who changed baseball forever with his use of statistical analysis.

    He’s done it again with Foxcatcher, the shocking true tale of one man’s madness amidst the quest for Olympic gold. Like with Moneyball, we are taken behind the scenes (or beyond the mat) of the sporting world, and the screen is flooded with the same damp, autumn colours as it was in Capote. It is melancholic but unsettling, as if slowly pumping up a balloon and waiting for it to burst. We first meet Olympic gold medallist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), scraping twenty bucks together by appearing in his brother’s absence at a school to teach kids the values required to achieve a gold medal. He goes home and eats microwave noodles, and then it’s back to the practice mat in preparation for the next tournament.

    His luck seems on the rise when he is contacted by the mysterious John du Pont (Steve Carell), the head of a vastly wealthy dynasty who lives at his huge, beautiful Foxcatcher Farm. Curious, Mark goes to meet him and learns of du Pont’s plans to make his farm the breeding ground of American wrestling. He instantly signs up, and Mark is given his own cabin and top-notch training facility. He is also given lots of cocaine, and soon submits to du Pont, at one point seen crouching in front of du Pont on his porch, like a well-trained guard dog. But du Pont is not satisfied with Mark alone – he wants his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo), also an gold medallist – at Foxcatcher too. Only Dave has settled with his wife (Sienna Miller) and children in the suburbs and, as Mark points out, can’t be bought. Du Pont cannot process this.

    If you don’t know the bizarre news story that came out of this arrangement, then it’s best not to know. The film’s foreboding is creeping. The introduction of John du Pont doesn’t portray him as the strange, uncharismatic, and increasingly deranged man that he was; instead we see him at a distance, muttering pleasantries and looking down that huge nose of his. He doesn’t convince as a wrestling coach, but Mark laps up the attention and luxury like any young man in his position would. When Dave eventually arrives, he sees du Pont for what he is – a man-child who inherited wealth, buying tanks to add to his military paraphernalia and living in fear of his reclusive mother (played by Vanessa Redgrave), wishing himself a leader of men without possessing any of the necessary skills required to be so. Only at this point, Mark has seen it too, but he also resents the success of his brother.

    Miller and screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman take all of this and makes it an analogy of modern America, where wealth inherited rather than earned still looms large over a country sworn to pursuing the dream and democracy. The performances are terrific. Carell and Ruffalo earned the Oscar nominations, but Tatum more than holds his own. In a scene just after a lost bout, Mark paces his room like a cage animal, suddenly bursting with rage and destroying a mirror with his head. Considering this was improvised on the spot by a dedicated Tatum, it really takes the breath away. Like the recent work of David Fincher, I believe that in the years to come, Foxcatcher will be studied as a window into our times and will be viewed as one of the finest American films of it’s era.

    Rating: 5/5

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