I have been waiting awhile for Foxcatcher to come to the area. The previews looked intense and engaging. I was somewhat familiar with this story and moreso with the legendary Schultz brothers and their Olympic success. In fact, they may be one step below Dan Gable as the greatest wrestlers in American history. Plus there's been quite a bit of Steve Carell hype supporting this spectacular performance.
Okay, let's be very clear, this is a dark, drawn out, somewhat haunting psychological thriller. This movie is highlighted by many gaps of silence (the visual says it all) and reminded me of Tom Hank's "Castaway" in terms of an effective stingily use of words. This only added to the quiet tension and uncertainty to the next stage of the story and was dramatic.
Well known comedian Steve Carell kills this role as John du Pont, the spoiled, privileged heir to the family Delaware based fortune. Clearly this young man had a very sheltered up bringing and was supported and had his path always cleared by his families wealth. As an adult, he uses his wealth to create a false group of friends, supporters and power.
The film, based on a true story, doesn't really explain his middle aged love for wrestling. He wanted to create the home to the US national wrestling program at his families estate "Foxcatcher". Back in the 80's before he got involved, USA amateur wrestlers were amateur and not state/country supported like athletes in other countries. Sensing this 2nd class citizenship for US wrestlers, he creates the state of the art Foxcatcher wrestling facility to recruit the best wrestlers in the country (and to stroke his ego of power). Though not clearly explained, du Pont targets Mark Schultz as a wrestler back on his heels and most susceptible to drinking the du Pont Kool-aid.
Mark (Channing Tatum) is raised fatherless and, outside of his stable brother (married with 2 kids) essentially rudderless. Seems to be rather limited educationally, he puts all his hopes, dreams, energies into the glamourless life of world class wrestling. The filmmakers do a fabulous job of presenting Mark complete with cauliflower ear, huge muscles, wobbly gate, low income life style and limited educational skills and personality.
du Pont has huge issues and you keep thinking it is going to get freaky (between him and Schultz). This uncomfortableness makes for a terrific movie combined with perfect casting. Muscle lug Tatum is terrific and Carell absolutely has to be up for a best actor nomination. Brother David Shultz is played terrifically by Mark Ruffalo who is really playing better and better roles.
I guarantee that this is a movie that people will either love or hate. This would be a hard movie for me to recommend though I must say I thought it was terrific. Its storytelling of this true and definitely under the radar story, is absolutely captivating. The previews do not give away the story at all. This is as good a psychological thriller this year as "Gone Girl".
At the end of the day, Carell character (du Pont) is remarkable with his make up, minimal words, large nose, angle up head and stoic facial expressions (loved his forced smile). The audience utterly hates him from the moment you meet him till the final curtain. Reminded me of the portrayal of 1960's racist and murderer Byron De La Beckwith in the movie "Mississippi Burning" by James Woods.
A really fine film