Review

FoxcatcherDirector Bennett Miller seem to have an affinity for telling a true story, rather historical events.  Before he went on to direct CapoteMoneyball, and now Foxcatcher, he was directing documentaries.  Something about real-life events draws inspiration and the attention of the director who has made only four-films in his sixteen years of moviemaking.  They say that fact is stranger than fiction, and as in the case of his latest feature, that statement couldn’t be any more true.

Foxcatcher tells the bizarre true story of schizophrenic-millionaire John du Pont, who in 1996 murdered one of the world champion wrestling Schultz brothers.  du Pont had long been an advocate and supporter of Olympic athletics, and set up a training facility for Olympic athletes on his estate.  Named after his fathers famous racing stable, du Pont named his team “Team Foxcatcher”, and set out to win the gold.  He brought in brothers Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo) Schultz to forge this new team and bring America bak to glory.

4_thumbWhile stepping into the role of John du Pont, Steve Carell is at times unrecognizable.  It’s strange because Carrell is such a popular figure on both television and in the movies, and his face is easily recognizable.  While watching Foxcatcher, you really forget that Carrell has a funny bone in his body, as he gives arguably one of the best performances of the year.  Foxcatcher tells only a small part of the story, but with his monologues, mannerisms, and theories, Carrell is undeniably creepy as the paranoid multimillionaire.  The film is exquisitely directed, but is clearly held up on the performances of both Steve Carell and Channing Tatum.

Primarily focusing on the relationship between Mark (Tatum) and John du Pont, you get an extremely disturbing passage into the psyche of both men.  The pedigree of Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Dave Schultz was right up on Carrell and Tatum’s level.  While he has less screen time then the others, his presence is felt as the rock throughout, and is a great compliment to his costars.  Besides the exceptional acting that every critic will undoubtedly praise, what exactly do you get with Foxcatcher?  Well, it’s certainly a well crafted movie, that some may find slowly-paced, and at times it does feel bogged down with monologues.

FOXCATCHERBennett Miller’s genius behind the camera is his ability to remain anonymous while directing.  Many of the great directors working today are about flash. Don’t get me wrong, I love when a director says “HEY, CHECK OUT THIS 15-MINUTE TRACKING SHOT”.  I love Orsen Wells’ opening in Touch of Evil, Alfonso Cuarón’s long-shots, or a overly complicated David Fincher dolly shot, but theres something to Miller’s ability to present the film in such a way as to say “hey, here’s the facts, make up your own mind”.  This may draw back to his affinity for the “true-story”, but his films are directed so subtly that many who aren’t paying attention will miss it.  Miller relies more on his actors than himself to get the story across.  As a result, actors in his films get Oscar nominations overtime, and Foxcatcher certainly won’t be any different.

Foxcatcher is a subtlly directed, incredibly acted, and an immensely creepy look at the relationship between paranoid-schizophrenic-multimillinare John du Pont and the world wrestling champion Shultz brothers.  Foxcatcher features a transformed Steve Carell delivering monologue after monologue, and examines the effects his actions have on the people around him.  It’s an odd yet fascinating story, that like the Titanic, even if you know how it ends, it’s about the ride that got you there and not the end result.  Even if you know the Titanic will sink, or one of the Schultz brothers are murdered, that’s not the point.  It’s about the relationships and delving into the psyche of a man spiraling out of control.

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(Bennett Miller, Nancy Schultz, and Anthony Michael Hall at the Philadelphia premiere)

Foxcatcher stars Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, Michael Anthony Hall, and is now expanding to theaters nationwide.



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.