<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Bennett Miller. Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall
Apparently one of the people who this film is based on criticised the director for inaccuracies as well as for insulting him. Once he saw people liked the movie he changed his mind but I’m inclined to go with his first instinct.
With absolutely no graph in terms of drama, Foxcatcher is by far one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen. Even the not-very-good Seventh Son I watched before Foxcatcher turned out to be mildly more entertaining.
Foxcatcher is about people who ride horses and hunt foxes… Oh wait no, that isn’t what it’s about. Although the intro to the film would make you believe that. Anyway, it’s about wrestling. And it’s a biography of two Olympic gold medal winners. So you know this film was made in time for that event with the golden statuette guy.
Brothers Mark and David Schultz were great in their heyday but Mark (Channing Tatum) found himself in poverty after his success at the Olympics. So it’s not only India that treats its sports people (other than the cricketers) badly. His brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) is slightly more successful. But soon a wealthy tycoon who owns Foxcatcher farms, Mr John E DuPont (Steve Carell) decides to scoop Mark from obscurity and start his own wrestling team to compete in the World and Olympic championships.
David Schultz refuses to join his brother so Mark heads off to the DuPont estate as the slightly-creepy and zombie-faced DuPont sets out to ‘coach’ him and a team even though he doesn’t really have any competitive wrestling experience. But he has money and that can usually buy everything.
I have to say that I did not recognise Steve Carell as John DuPont when he first appears on screen. The make-up and prosthetics transform him so perfectly. That coupled with his deadpan expression and eerie behaviour makes him an interesting character. But we’ve seen far weirder and unbalanced personalities in films far more interesting than this one.
Foxcatcher is just a boringly made movie. There was a point where Mark gets angry in his hotel room and is pacing his room. I knew he was gonna punch a lamp; he bangs his face in a mirror and then walks over to the lamp and then smashes it. I was like ‘yeah’! And that was my entertainment, guessing that pretty predictable move in what is a highly predictable film until the very last 10 minutes. But even that insane twist at the end doesn’t really create shock and awe.
Channing Tatum does a relatively good job in the role as does Mark Ruffalo who is the voice of reason in the film.
And from the real Mark Schultz’s Twitter rants we can surmise that not all of what Bennett Miller has included in Foxcatcher is true to real life. In fact some have speculated whether very much of it is true at all.
Also, there is that underlying issue of homosexuality. Is the mommy-whipped DuPont really gay? Does he have a crush on Mark and is wrestling just a ruse to get some physical contact? These questions are never tackled properly and are some of the reasons why the real Mark Schultz felt insulted. Oh well, you can tell that at least the film got the nutty, unbalanced nature of the characters right.
I don’t see much chance for Foxcatcher picking up any Oscars other than Best Actor for Steve Carell though after watching Birdman I’m pretty sure Michael Keaton will be getting it.