Film Review: Foxcatcher (2014)
The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.
This is the story of how an Olympic gold medal winning wrestler was gunned down and killed by a wealthy, eccentric with delusions of grandeur and the story behind how people can be manipulated, sometimes with grave consequences.
The first thing that strikes you in a film of this seriousness is the name Steve Carell. Always associated with comedy, this film is a huge departure for him and is perhaps a clever piece of casting in order to better show the Jekyll and Hyde personality of John E. DuPont, the character that Carell plays.
Based on true events, John Dupont was obsessed with wrestling, and I’m not talking WWE here, this is Olympic wrestling, and the Schultz brothers were the pinnacle of this sport at the 1984 Olympic Games, with both winning gold medals. Mark, the younger brother was clearly the lesser athlete and was continually in his brothers’ shadow and all the esteem problems that presents, so when someone comes along and promises you the world, what are you gonna do?
DuPont offered Mark Schultz the world, becoming a father figure, financial backer, and mentor despite not actually being a coach of the sport itself. This deluded man thought he was something he was not and it ended up in tragedy. This is not a spoiler, this historical fact, so go and read about it…
…or, you could watch the movie. It’s a decent film given the “True Entertainment Channel” treatment, I enjoyed the movie enough to watch it until the end to get the climax of the story, which when it happens is swift and causes good impact, but I have to be honest and tell you that the rest of the movie was a little slow-paced. The performances on the other hand are very good. Carell makes the most of his shot at a serious role, and his co-stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo support him admirably, as you would expect.
There is some Oscar buzz about this one, and I predicted as much when I saw the trailer last year. I think the likes of Carell and Ruffalo will get a nomination, but I don’t think the film itself is strong enough to carry their portrayals to an actual win at this years Academy Awards though. It is very refreshing to see actors take on something different and Carell should try more of the serious side of acting, just as fellow comedian Jonah Hill has in recent years to great effect.
Rating: – Worth a watch
I found it incredibly disappointing. By the time we saw Carrell for the first time, I was already bored out of my skull and wishing it was already over. I came to it knowing nothing more than it was based on a true story and was about wrestling, and left it not giving a damn about the subject matter.
The only decent person was David (Ruffalo), who genuinely seemed to care for others; du Pont (Carrell) was clearly a creepy sociopath and I’m amazed anyone would have wanted to be in the same time zone as him, let alone stay at his estate to train for a sporting event; and I spent the entire movie wishing I could reach through the screen and slap Mark (Tatum) for being a whiny little bitch. So you’re not as good a wrestling as your brother? Well boo-bloody-hoo! Quit whining, grow up, and get on with your life!
I confess I didn’t watch to the end – I was far too bored with it all. Solid performances from all three leads, in particular Carrell, who was pretty compelling to watch and should consider more serious roles in the future, but the film itself was pretty pointless and seemed to drag on forever.
Rating: – OK, but nothing to write home about
There’s a lot of awards buzz around this one, and we do get the feeling that there will be some Oscar nominations around the performances, perhaps for direction, and maybe even for makeup (the prosthetic makeup on Carrell in particular is very good), but the film itself, we feel, is far too weak for a win.