Foxcatcher was released at the very start of this year just in time for awards season, conveniently enough. I decided to choose it because it feel it got unfairly lost in the shuffle when it came to the slew of “worthy films” that came out around the same time.
Plus, despite being nominated for a ton of awards it barely got any, meaning that it wouldn't even get a post awards show boost. Now, the worth of a film is not measured in awards, but I can't help but feel it was overlooked.
Out of all the frontrunners for awards glory, Foxcatcher has stuck with me the most, insidiously living in my frontal lobe and chilling me when I think about it.
Foxcatcher is based on a real story of obsession and murder, directed by Bennett Miller. Channing Tatum plays Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestling gold medal winner.
He, along with his fellow gold medallist brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) are in training for the next big global competition. Mark is soon recruited by eccentric millionaire John Du Pont (Steve Carell) to have access to Du Pont's state-of-the-art gym and equipment in return for joining Du Pont's Team Foxcatcher.
If you don't know the actual story, I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say this is one bleak film. It's a dark and twisted little story that leaves you with more questions than when you started. The film certainly holds up its end of the bargain by making itself just as vague as to the actual motives behind what eventually transpired, but it certainly offers up some compelling theories.
Channing Tatum is really impressive as Mark. His character is not one to verbally express how he's feeling, so Tatum cranks up the physical storytelling. For one, Mark has a bit of a Neanderthal thing about him, with a furrowed brow and a stuck out chin.
It's even down to the way he walks, kind of round-shouldered, like a Silverback gorilla.
It's an intense performance and Tatum does really well. With this and Magic Mike can we stop calling the guy a bad actor now? He definitely isn't. Steve Carell's performance beneath a ridiculous prosthetic nose is a great one. Carell's roles normally require massively broad strokes and lots of yelling, but Du Pont is like an alien wearing a human suit. Everything from the way he shuffles around to the way he unconvincingly gives motivational speeches is straight from the uncanny.
The performance does go comedic occasionally and it adds great depth to the character. At one point, Du Pont tells Mark that now they're friends, Mark doesn't have to call him “sir” any more. He then goes on to tell Mark, straight-faced and unironically, that his friends call him “Eagle” or “Golden Eagle”.
Written down it looks like a joke from Step Brothers, but in practice, it's clear that Du Pont's got himself a bad case of arrested development, stuck in childish ways because he never had a proper childhood to grow out of.
Overall, it's a great performance by Carell, I just wish the prosthetics had been toned down slightly. He looks more like a character in a comedy sketch than the real guy. Mark Ruffalo gives an incredibly naturalistic and unselfish performance as Schultz Snr. Both Tatum and Carell are quite theatrical in their roles whearas Ruffalo plays an everyman dad and plays it straight down the line.
He's a foil to the bigger acting and it works perfectly.
I didn't really enjoy Foxcatcher in the traditional sense of the word, but that's the point. It was never going to be a pizza and beer Friday night Netflix choice. It's a cold and bleak film that intentionally doesn't offer any easy answers when it comes to explaining what went down and why. It kept me glued to my seat. I was really taken in by the main three and no matter how uncomfortable I felt as things built up, I knew I had to finish it.
Highly recommended, but not for date night.