Director Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher could be the creepiest film I have ever seen. It’s the only one that’s ever made me feel I needed to go home and shower afterwards…to get the “creep” off me. In fact, I’ve seen holocaust films that had more humor than this.
I’m really grateful, however, that, prior to viewing, I knew nothing about this story or who the stars were; only that Steve Carell was a coach of something and had a great makeup job to change his appearance.
So, it was a big surprise to learn this coach was John du Pont, head of the, then, richest family in America and that the story was based on a real-life story of wrestler Mark Schultz, who I vaguely remembered as an Olympic Gold Medal Winner in 1984.
To its credit, Foxcatcher has some of the best male actor performances as a group in years with Steve Carell as du Pont, Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz and Mark Ruffolo as Mark’s older brother David. And, as good as Carell and Tatum are, it’s Ruffolo, who hands in the best performance and keeps this film alive. (In fact, I’ll admit, I had to wait until the Credits to make sure the amazing actor who sort of looked like Mark Ruffalo was really him.)
Then, you throw it the great Vanessa Redgrave as the du Pont matriarch and you might wonder what could go wrong.
What is wrong is Foxcatcher is one of those “Why?” films, like Calvary, which I reviewed earlier in the year. Why would anyone want to make this story?
It starts out with Tatum as a Lenny-type character from Of Mice and Men, going through his training paces, oh so laconically. Okay, what’s this film about? Then, he gets a call that a Mr. du Pont, who he hadn’t heard of, wants to meet him. Oh, that’s Carell…, who speaks ever so laconically in an environment where everything seems to move ever so laconically. Okay, it’s a stylistic mood piece.
And, the film just got weirder and creepier until 5 minutes before the climactic moment, when I looked at my watch and wondered how Writers E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman were going to end this sad tale. Then, the sickening shock that made every one of us who didn’t know this story jump, soon followed by an abrupt cut to the Credits. Okay, it’s a true story. But, again… Why?
If this were a story about kings, it might have meant something, but as Mrs. du Pont correctly said, “Wrestling is a low sport.” So, once more… Why?
I give Foxcatcher a 2 for its story, but a 5 for its actors…so, overall, a 3+ out of 5.
Warning: Do not bring a firearm with you, if you go. You might use it on yourself.