Mark and Dave Schultz, U.S. Olympic Wrestling champions, join Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul - but John's emotional self-destruction threatens to consume them all.
Based on true events, Foxcatcher tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. When Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is invited by wealthy heir John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move on to the du Pont estate and help form a team to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics at his new state-of-the-art training facility, Schultz jumps at the opportunity, hoping to focus on his training and finally step out of the poverty striken situation Olympic caliber athletes like he and his revered brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Driven by hidden needs, du Pont sees backing Schultz's bid for Gold and the chance to "coach" a world-class wrestling team as an opportunity to gain the elusive respect of his peers and, more importantly, his disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave). Trapped in du Pont's majestic but suffocating world, Mark comes to see his benefactor as an ... Written by
Sony Pictures Classics
According to Channing Tatum, he and Mark Ruffalo spent an intensive five to six months training for wrestling, which took its toll on the actors. During one particularly physical take, Channing insisted to Ruffalo "to just slap the shit out of me and get it over with," which resulted in Channing's eardrum accidentally getting popped. The take is in the film. See more »
At the hotel after the US trials in Pensacola, David knocks on John DuPont's assistant's hotel door which has a key card lock. Keycards were invented in 1979, but were not in widespread use until the early 2000s. It might be possible, but unlikely used in a cheap motel where the wrestlers stayed. See more »
[Mark gives a speech to a school of young students]
Hello. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to you today. My name is Mark Schultz. I wanna talk about America, and I wanna tell you why I wrestle.
[Mark holds up his Olympic gold metal to the kids]
This is an Olympic gold metal. I won this three years ago at the 23rd Olympic games in Los Angeles, California. This is more than just some piece of metal. It's about what the metal represents. The virtues it requires to attain...
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A meticulously crafted if dry study of the American dream.
It's been a long wait. After a year and a half of hype, Foxcatcher is finally among us. This isn't really the type of film that earns such excitement. It's a cold, hard, slow burn, but one that's meticulously crafted. It's a film easier to appreciate than to enjoy. It tells the true story of the relationship between Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz, played by Channing Tatum, his brother and also gold medalist David, played by Mark Ruffalo, and a wealthy entrepreneur investing in their future to become World Champions, Jan Du Pont, played by Steve Carell. For a story of such tragedy and exposure to the world at large, it's surprising that we're only hearing of it now, but the film's weak spots do make it clear why director Bennett Miller needed an extra year to work on it, having been initially anticipated as a 2013 release.
It's clear from the style of Capote and Moneyball that Miller is concerned with capturing raw authenticity with a voyeuristic (and grimly saturated) eye on the characters. It gives Tatum and Carell some of the best artistic environments of their careers for them to play around in. Tatum in particular is impressive unlike what we've seen him in before. In his previous films he's seemed so disengaged but here he has tunnel vision focus, constantly fighting imaginary foes. We're often given shots of him just staring out windows, but he makes them rich with subtext, with both his fulfillment of his ambitions and tedium of his stripped down life. It's a physical role with great sensitivity, showing his selfishness and self-deprecating side.
Although there's a strong bond between the brothers especially with their sport, Ruffalo is the antithesis of Tatum. Where Tatum still seems to struggle when engaging with people, however appropriate for the character, it all comes natural for Ruffalo. It's a very subdued but loose performance. Internalizing a lot of different emotions, frustrations and conflicts that Tatum and Carell have but with a whole heap of charm. He's comfortable in his own skin compared to them. I missed him when he wasn't on screen, but it's unfortunate that during his portion of the film in the last third, events become too jumbled. Especially in its final twenty minutes, which does unfortunately drag the film down for me that it doesn't land on two feet. It does find key moments bubbling under its psychological tension, and you often have to be very patient for them to reveal themselves.
Carell however was a slight disappointment. The most hyped up aspect of the film since we first got excited 18 months ago, it's certainly transformative but the character is too sparse and distant. Granted, this is part of Du Pont, he's a man who doesn't make have a presence when he walks into a room so he has to compensate with money and weapons. He's good, but suffers due to this nature. His character blossoms under Miller's direction and the makeup (his nose looking like the 'eagle' he wants himself nicknamed after), but his strength in his prolonged sinister stares. The film has some very interesting themes to say with him about the American dream and patriotism, ironic as his last name is evidently foreign. It's quietly powerful. Carell is best as a fascinating contradictory poetic figure, rather than a performance.
It's a great film thanks to Miller's methodical approach in setting up the triangle of characters, and the anguish of their motivations. It is cripplingly restrained in every facet, which is good to express the repression that the characters go through; the joylessness of Mark's success, how David's family weigh him down, the way people underestimate Du Pont, and then the ultimate dissatisfaction of the glory they chase. There's a lot to delight from its allegories and the way the relationships develop. However, the way it puts the viewer at an unsettling distance and how dry and somber it is hints that it might not do too well at winning awards, though certainly show up on ballots. I'm sensing that we may find a Carell snub in a stacked category, but Ruffalo is assured. Miller may have to fight for that 5th spot in Director but I wouldn't be surprised to see him there. I'm not eager to watch Foxcatcher again so soon but it's a film that burrows deeply in fraught places.
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