My awards season reviews continue with Foxcatcher.
This demonstrates the best of the ‘slow burners’ and is even more effective if you don’t know anything, or very little, about the true story it revolves around. As I watched it I had no clue and I personally think it’s a better watch if you don’t know how the story ends. So if you too don’t know anything about the story and want to watch the film before you do this next paragraph is going to be a MAJOR SPOILER for you. The paragraph after will be the review, with no spoilers.
Foxcatcher tells the true story of millionaire John du Pont (played by Steve Carrell) and his complicated relationships with Olympic wrestlers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). Du Pont had a hand in many pastimes, from horse racing to the study of birds and in the 1980’s, his newest endeavor was wrestling. This is when he first meets the Schultz brothers.
Both Mark and Dave are Olympic wrestling medal winners but Dave is the more famous, successful of the two, leaving Mark constantly in his shadow. So when Du Pont shows an interest in Mark alone, he jumps at the chance to move to Foxcatcher Farm to train for the 1988 Olympic games in du Ponts gym. Needless to say, the dynamic between du Pont and Mark grows increasingly strange. They become extremely close, a relationship situated somewhere between father and son and lovers. Very destructive for each, but both lap up the attention each one creates. Eventually however, du Pont manages to bribe Dave to move his family to Foxcatcher farm in order to coach the team together in preparation for the Olympics, thus creating a great strain on du Ponts relationship with Mark. Dave is everything du Pont wanted for Mark; coach, brother, father, role model, inspiration leaving him increasingly isolated from Marks training and eventually Mark and Dave’s family life. Mark creates, almost out of nowhere, an incredible distain for du Pont and leaves the farm. Du Pont, perhaps wanting to grasp control of his disintegrating team, drives to Dave’s home and shoots Dave in his driveway, killing him in front of Dave’s distraught wife. Du Pont is later arrested at his home and sentenced to life in jail where he later died in 2010.
OK that’s the spoiler bit over with, you can read on from here.
Like I said at the start of this review, this film is the best demonstration of a ‘slow burner’. Although sometimes a little slow, your anticipation for the next scene rarely dwindles. Carell’s performance as du Pont is scarily good. There’s none of the comedic, loveably silly guy you’re so used to seeing him be. He transforms completely into this psychotic, egotistical sociopath and that’s why he’s been rightfully nominated for best actor. Although Channing’s performance is worthy of a best supporting actor nomination, I’m not overly surprised he didn’t receive it. He’s good, but the character he plays is a slightly dumb, vacant, lacking in personality, hard man, and that’s kind of who Channing always plays. It’s a fairly simple role for him, little in the way of a challenge. Although his appearance and mannerism seem incredibly similar to the real Mark Schultz, so props to him for that.
Mark Ruffalo brings his usual, amazingly involved self to the role of Dave Schultz and you see the real man behind the actor the whole way through, so no surprise, he’s the one snapping up best supporting actor nominations for this film. Although all aspects of this film could just about propel it to best picture nominations, I believe its Carell’s performance that takes the film from good to amazing and for that it receives no best picture nominations, but Bennet Miller is in the running for best director.
The atmosphere created all adds to the realness, seriousness and strangeness of this true story, but without being too demeaning towards Millers techniques, I think the most outstanding performance lies with Carell, so Carell for the win.