The hottest shower couldn’t take away the lingering chills down my spine after viewing this movie. A crime/thriller/drama of the weirdest variety stars Oscar nominated actors Steve Carrell and Mark Ruffalo along with a career performance by Channing Tatum. Foxcatcher is unlike any sports film you ever seen. Instead, it revolves around the turmoil of success and the rough roads that we walk upon to get there. It’s a grimly visualized depiction of an already depressing real life story set in late 1980’s into the 1990’s. The roots of the tragic events take place in the suburban areas outside of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, but the film was shot in — my hometown — Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
Following the chronicles of Mark Schultz, a real life gold medalist in wrestling at the ’84 Olympics, comes Channing Tatum in his best performance to date alongside Mark Ruffalo who also delivers an award caliber performance as Tatum’s brother Dave Schultz. They share a unique and bizarre relationship and it shows all throughout their scenes together. Through Bennett Miller’s direction, the landscape of this grim real life tale delves into the conflict between brothers and the psychology of people who live through others. Steve Carrell helms one of the most unnerving performances I’ve seen in recent memory only to our shock and dismay. No more do you see the funny and awkward comedian, but rather his parallel universe version that boasts the most vile and disturbing actions and reactions to an obsession that goes far beyond sports.
This is a film of transformations from all the actors involved with sickly mangled results. From the make-up for Carrell and his unnerving lack of empathy throughout makes him to be one of the most impressive performers of our time without us even knowing it. Tatum goes back into his wrestling roots to be the gorilla walking Olympic wrestler with a vulnerability that makes your heart skip a beat while you attempt to find solace in Mark Ruffalo’s Dave. It’s quite the emotional roller coaster as well as an informative story on such an unbelievable story of success and failure.
High self standards are common in the world of athletes and the self-destruction of these characters are all too clear from the beginning, all the way to final scenes of the film. If you were expecting a realistic sports drama in the likes of an Ali or Miracle think again. Think of Bennett Miller’s other impressive work on a film like Moneyball, but with no jokes and no energy and no happy moments. The sorrow comes from the unfortunate true events that occurred with John E. du Pont and his wrestlers portrayed by Ruffalo and Tatum and it let’s you know that for the seemingly endless run-time. Comparing it to a David Fincher would be slightly unfair, but if this film had the full personality of a David Fincher film, it’d be a David Fincher film. The tones are similar as well as the cinematography being bleak and dimly lit throughout the film.
This is a crime drama for the ages that goes under the category of “only see it once” for most people and I wouldn’t blame you for it, but to get the true trimmings of this film you have to give it a second chance. What it truly turns into is a depiction of the pursuit of perfection and the emotional instability of those who don’t realize perfection is never going to be in their reach. It tells of the class systems in a way most may not catch at first — hence why you should see it at least twice — and tells a unique tale not enough of us have heard of. In a way, this film is like a wrestling match itself, and becomes its own metaphor for what the characters ending of doing and that is, circling around each other hoping to pin the other down in defeat.
I give credit to the director for getting such remarkable performances out of all of his actors and bringing them to their full potential as well as bringing to a light a story none of us born after the events would have heard about. It’s a film that feels like it’s coated with ash and crushed up antidepressants to ease our pain, but only for us to focus in on what this movie is truly trying to say. It’s a well done film that won’t exactly be a popcorn movie for most, but the audience is there, and that’s why I can give this grade so comfortably.