Tuesday 13 January 2015


(Bennett Miller, 2014)

There is no air in Foxcatcher. That's mostly deliberate on the part of Bennett Miller, stretching out the tension in this quietly beautiful drama until we feel as if the movie itself might snap. As soon as John Du Pont (Steve Carrell) enters the story, we watch and wait for him to explode. He is a billionaire scion of an old American dynasty, and an obsession with Greco-Roman Wrestling leads him to establish his own training facility in the grounds of his huge estate. The first wrestler he recruits is Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), and their relationship grows needy and complex even before DuPont recruits Dave (Mark Ruffalo), Mark's charismatic older brother and mentor. Eventually, the dynamic between the three becomes so difficult that somebody has to leave...or die...
For all the remarkable precision in Miller's filmmaking and the air of serious thematic import, Foxcatcher is a little silly in it's use of a fascinating true story to say some vague things about America, and its relationship with competitors and heroes. The good stuff is in the intimate close-up relationship material; the delicate familiarity of the relationship between the Schultz brothers, the way Du Pont never ever seems comfortable in his own skin and can barely have a normal conversation with another human being, the rush and complexities of wrestling and the athletes who live with it daily. The performances match the control of the direction. Ruffalo is brilliant, his body language alone a miraculous piece of acting. Tatum is a little more one-dimensional as the sulking ape, while Carrell does magnetic work as Du Pont. Magnetic but baffling - this film never once makes his actions explicable. Du Pont remains a mysterious enigma, bizarre and unknowable. Foxcatcher feels like it barely knows its subject.

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