Don’t dare research Foxcatcher on Wikipedia before going to a showing. Foxcatcher was set up by John du Pont (Steve Carell) as a facility for wrestlers training for the U.S Olympic team. He wanted US gold medalists Mark and David Schultz to be part of the project. Mark (Channing Tatum) is the only brother who agreed to become part of du Pont’s elite training facility. As a result he becomes successful in teaching fellow wrestlers aswell as winning gold himself at the World Championships. However motivation fades and du Pont hires Mark’s brother David (Mark Ruffalo) which reveals tension firstly between the two brothers and then with du Pont.
Built up as an Oscars contender Foxcatcher is engaging and challenging for the audience. The eire silences and autumnal visuals make it clear that something is brewing.
Steve Carell is almost unrecognisable. His own wife said to him after watching the trailer: “you’re not in it”. He is astoundingly good in the role of the du Pont. He is the strong favourite to win Best Actor at the, not yet nominated, Academy Awards for best actor. But that’s not to deflect from Channing Tatum who delivers his best performance to date alongside Mark Ruffalo who is equally outstanding. The brothers are comparable to those in ‘The Fighter’. Their relationship varies from professional, childish, harsh and loving. As this plays out du Pont challenges them by enforcing power, fear and money into their lives.
Power structures are very much the central theme of the film. Du Pont fights against his mother to establish Foxcatcher as the national training centre for Wresting. Mother du Pont (Vanessa Redgrave) describes wrestling as a lowly sport which incentivises du Pont more. His violent and awkward personality grows as the training intensifies. But it’s not to the benefit of the Schultz brothers.
Foxcatcher is too long in parts. Much of the speechless scenes are crucial to maintaining the eire atmosphere of the film. But with the film geared towards the denouement there are scenes where the action dissipates. It seems no one wanted to cut what is clearly terrific acting.
Bennett Miller’s previous films include ‘Capote’ and ‘Moneyball’. Both are personal favourites. Foxcatcher contains a mixture of both these films. However Foxcatcher is not an enjoyable film – but that is not a criticism. For all the acting talent and intense dramatic scenes it makes for uncomfortable viewing. It is not a sport film and nor is it concerned with the sport of wrestling. It is about the power triangle and its destructive influences on du Pont and the Schultz brothers.