My wife and I watched Foxcatcher last night on DVD, and neither of us could look away from the screen. This movie is haunting, intense, disturbing, and riveting. Steve Carell is virtually unrecognizable as he plays John du Pont. I honestly did not think Carell could capably play such a creepy character, such an emotionally devoid human being, yet he did, and I truly think it’s one of the best performances I’ve seen in a movie.
As you may know, it’s loosely based on a true story in which du Pont volunteered his Foxcatcher estate to house and train the US Olympic team. He befriends Mark and Dave Schultz, two championship wrestlers as they strive to make the Olympics again. Yet, du Pont’s intentions are not entirely philanthropic, and as the movie progresses, you realize the Schultz’s have accepted the help of a very unsettled man.
While the movie centers upon Olympic-level wrestling, it is absolutely a character driven movie. There is ample wrestling, but it’s not distracting and, for those who do not appreciate the sport, it only amplifies the overall story – it in no way detracts from it.
Mark Ruffalo plays David Schultz, older brother to Mark Schultz. Yes, he’s likable as Ruffalo typically is, but not conventionality so. He loves his little brother, he loves his wife and children, he loves his sport, and du Pont has offered a way for him to provide a stable environment for all of his loves. Of course, the irony is that he must deal with an unstable man in order to do so. We identify with David. We root for him as he does what he has to for his family, and even though we know he shouldn’t deal with du Pont, Ruffalo reflects our own willingness to do what it takes to take care of our loved ones.
Channing Tatum holds his own with Carell and Ruffalo. His Mark Schultz has little to say, broods a lot, and tends to stare off into nothingness, yet Tatum plays Schultz almost as strange as Carell does du Pont. Tatum makes Mark seem as though there is rage beneath the silent surface, and we’re never quite sure where Mark stands or what he’s capable of doing.
No matter what your feelings are about Olympic style wrestling, I urge you to watch Foxcatcher. It simmers throughout, and when tragedy finally strikes, it will break your heart. It’s absolutely one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite some time and Carell will captivate you with his subtle, ominous performance.