Foxcatcher is a biographical drama film based on the olympic gold medalist US wrestler Mark Schultz’s (Channing Tatum) memoir which entails his recruitment from wealthy wrestling enthusiast John E du Pont (Steve Carrell). His brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) has a pivotal role in the film which explores the relationship between the trio and the consequent tragedy that ensues.
The film commences with a very stern, sombre looking man, with a clenched jaw and protruding chin, an expression that he wears throughout the entirety of the film. Without trying to be too reaching, one could say it was symbolic of the film’s tone, for this was a film so eerie and sinister, upon seeing it, responses would be akin to that of hearing sharp nails scraping a blackboard. The main catalyst for reverberating these shivers down your spine was incredulously because of Steve Carell, the man who has made us cry tears of laughter! The man was completely transformed, physically with the use of prosthetics, but also characteristically as he adopted mannerisms and an eccentric personality unprecedented for him. He had a fierce desire to cultivate the world’s best wrestling team with the intention of being identified as a revered member of his families illustrious history. However the woman from whom he seeks the most approval, his mother, looks down on his efforts considering the sport of wrestling to be ‘low’. By failing to achieve his aspirations, his character just spirals further and further down having pernicious effects. His character was very taciturn and came off somewhat capricious, I was never at ease watching him. You never really knew what he was thinking or what he’d do which was of course exemplified at the end of the film. Being a man of few words helped to convey a palpable tension many times which simply put the viewer at unease.
Foxcatcher relied heavily on unspoken chemistry, in particular between the two brothers Mark and Dave who straight off the bat in their first scene together exhibit a noticeable bond, but conversely a tension as well. This is because Mark feels somewhat undermined by his older brother, which is a misplaced attitude he incurs as Dave in truth, means no harm and has only ever looked out for Mark. Their relationship speaks through their physical interactions rather than their verbal ones, and that applies for the film as well, the dialogue is muted in sound and importance. In spite of his elder brother always being a reassuring and guiding presence, Mark seeks adulation from John gradually seeing him as a father figure and the two seem to share a friendship, despite Mark’s apparent subservient role. The film like John’s character is unpredictable though, and there was a sudden incongruous shift in their relationship which could have been better elaborated, especially seeing as this was a slow film, there wasn’t much going on at times. This was a film that was carried by the performances put in by each of the three actors, most of it’s merit stems from here and I’m not sure it would have been as watchable without the trio.
In spite of the film’s tone and dank atmosphere, the soundtrack involved the playing of soothing piano music. which was an effective antithesis in furthering the uncomfortable feeling you had whilst watching the film. I’m probably making a mountain out of molehill on how cold this film was but the trailer gave off a completely different vibe. Most sports movies have an uplifting ending or are scattered with inspiring moments, well don’t aspect any of that from Foxcatcher.
There’s no hiding behind the fact that Foxcatcher is a slow film, but it’s the actors performances that fuel the viewer’s interest, the creepiness of Carell’s character in particular who really is a snake in the grass. Foxcatcher can be another addition to last year’s ever-growing list of good films.