(Re-posted from LimitéMagazine.com)
Series: Main Slate
Haunting. There’s perhaps no better word to describe the true story of DuPont chemicals heir John E. du Pont and his curious relationship with Olympic champion wrestlers, brothers Mark and David Schultz. In filmmaker Bennett Miller’s third feature, Steve Carell plays against type (superbly) to embody the eccentric—if not mildly psychopathic—du Pont in this 1980s-set true story. To call Foxcatchera “sports movie” is providing it a disservice. Yes, wrestling provides more than just a backdrop for the narrative, but the most compelling aspect of the two-hour-plus drama is the character study it provides, especially among the three leads. These include du Pont, a man who’s perhaps never heard the word no in his life, striving to gain his mother’s approval; Mark (Channing Tatum), a man, who despite his champion status, struggles to step out of his older brother’s shadow; and David (Mark Ruffalo), a family man who must balance what’s best for his wife and children with his brotherly duties.
It would be near impossible to leave the theatre after a screening ofFoxcatcher and not feel compelled to discuss the stunning, perhaps career-defining performances by its leads, all of whom entered the Oscar discussion earlier this year when the film premiered at Cannes, where Miller earned the coveted Best Director prize and is now considered a frontrunner for an Oscar nomination (which would be his second after only three movies; his previous nomination came for 2005’s Philip Seymour Hoffman starrer, Capote). Carell sheds his funny-man persona and electrifies the screen in a downright creepy portrayal of du Pont. Tatum continues to make cinephiles turn heads, reminding them that he’s a serious actor fully capable of mastering profound material. Ruffalo continues 2014 with another fantastic performance following June’s Begin Again—an entirely different kind of movie—proving the Oscar nominee’s versatility. Memorable supporting performances are provided by Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall, and Vanessa Redgrave, who, despite her few minutes of screen time, makes a wallop of an impact. Beautifully rounding out each character is Dennis Liddiard’s spectacular makeup—from du Pont’s distinctive nose and teeth to the Schultz brothers’ cauliflower ears—which no doubt aided the actors in finding their characters.
From start to finish, Foxcatcher progresses with a string of tense and uncomfortable scenes, each expertly building on the previous, resulting in a heart-stopping climax, which would stun even those who are familiar with this true story. That’s a testament both to Miller’s direction, as well as screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman.
Foxcatcher is slated for a November 14 wide release.
Limité Rating: 5/5
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall
Runtime: 133 min.
The 52nd New York Film Festival concluded on October 12, 2014.
Follow Limité Senior Film Editor Daniel Quitério on Twitter (@dan_quiterio).[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PypvNBTdxnY]